Amber Lilyestrom

My mission in life is to show you how beautiful you are...through my camera lens...through my words...through the time we spend together. I believe each and everyone of us has a special gift to give the world and it's time we all start to believe and celebrate this fact. Here is the place you will meet Amber Lilyestrom the Mama - Wife - Photographer - Marketing Professional - Soul Sister all wrapped in to one. I'd love to connect with you... you can find me at the following links below:
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On Sunday, I had the honor of participating in my dear friend, Lauren Bodwell, of Lauren Bodwell Photography's “The Beautiful Mama” project. 

To say I had been anxious about being on the other side of the camera lens would be an understatement and a half!  It brought up a lot of old stuff about body image and some new stuff about being a new mama and the changes my body has undergone since Anni’s birth.

Well, I am happy to report, that #1 I survived…and #2…I think the images are going to be really powerful.  We used words like “strong. proud. powerful” during the session and on the other side of it all…I feel just that.

My own experiences combined with those of my closest friends and women far and wide brought me to create my own vision for helping women find their beauty.  Our society has done a number on all of us and the very things we should be celebrating most about our beautiful bodies, we’ve been taught to loathe.

Out of this…the lovely sessions were born…

i have a secret to share:

you’re absolutely lovely.  just as you are.

…….

i want to start a revolution.

let’s begin by encouraging one another to embrace our unique and individual power.

to realize that each and everyone of us is breath-takingly gorgeous…right.here.and.now.

not when we lose the baby weight.

or when that pair of jeans fits just a little bit better.

or only when we wear our hair straight.
{but who has time for that, anyway, right?}

darlin’

 you’re beautiful.

right now. as you are.

……

the lovely sessions are for you and for me.

the lovely sessions are here to help us to overcome our fears. our insecurities. our self-loathing.

to help us begin to heal.

it’s time to start a revolution. it’s time to embrace our beauty.
and change the way we talk {and think} about ourselves.

every woman deserves to feel lovely.

……..

as a photographer, my joy is taking photographs of my clients and giving them the gift of seeing their
true beauty in a way they, perhaps, have never seen before.

this is what the lovely sessions are all about.

capturing women, feeling beautiful…allowing our unique selves to shine through.

whatever that means…

I want to capture you

the exhausted mama…
the overworked executive…
the newly retired grandmother…
the single gal just looking for some answers…
and every one of us in between…

feeling lovely.

Consider this a gift…to yourself. 

A chance to heal. to celebrate. to cherish. to love. the one and only beautiful you.

…… ……. ……. ……. ……. ……. ……. …….

the lovely sessions package includes:

1 hour photo session in a mutually agreed upon location.

5 hi-resolution digital images with a personal use release.

2 social media image files sized for facebook.

1 5 x7 print to frame and adore.

an online virtual viewing session of all edited images taken during our session (available for 7 days).
additional digital image files, prints and other products may be purchased via this link.

$150

optional: professional hair & makeup package add-on
(email me for more information)

let’s show the world your lovely.

email me at amberlilyestromphotography@gmail.com or call (603) 343-4205.

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One of my favorite photos of our daughter is of her wearing the most precious little baby bird hat, that I had carefully selected on etsy before she was born.

Being a new mom {and having no clue what having a newborn is really like}, I had visions of my sleeping babe, nestled in a fur blanket, fast asleep like a little angel.

The reason this photograph is one of my all-time favorites is because it’s the complete opposite of what I expected it to be…just like childbirth was and just like most of the milestones of being a new parent have been.

Our 3-week old spent the better part of the hour and a half photo session screaming and when she wasn’t screaming, she was staring at the camera with vivid intensity.  The visions I had of our sleeping angel baby being captured on camera were slowly fading away as Dan (our wonderful wedding photographer) continued to snap photos of our wild child.

Despite the frustration I felt in the moment, I love this photograph because it represents the importance of going with the flow, especially when it comes to babies. That time in our lives was intense, exhausting and emotional and this photograph captures this perfectly. We actually have this photo framed and hanging in our home and when I look at it, I smile and feel gratitude that

1. we survived….and 2. that we were blessed with this little girl…

I encourage you to schedule a photo session for your little one when you feel comfortable.  Getting newborn images at 7-10 days is ideal for some folks; but, for others, it’s not realistic and that’s totally ok! The bottom line is to do what feels natural to you. And to remember that If your little one loses it during his/her photo session…go with the flow and recognize that this is real life and it’s our job as photographers to capture that for you. You will look back and smile and be grateful for the chaos, the bumps in the road and for a time when you thought your little one might never grow up.

And dare I say it? You might even miss those {crazy/sleepless} days & nights…

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much love {& happy tears} xo

**please note: as professional baby photographers, patience is paramount. We don’t mind waiting out a feeding or giving you the time you need to make sure your little one is warm and comfortable. It’s part of the job and the key to getting great newborn images.**

check out my photography website over at http://amberlilyestromphotography.com/

Do you feel like you take 7,000 photos in a week of your kids; yet, none of them are good enough to print or post on facebook?

Well, I just so happen to be a professional kid photographer and my hope is that I can provide you with tips and assistance on helping you SAVE those images rather than clicking them on over in to the trash bin.

Let’s start with the iPhone. Many of us have them, and let’s face it , in this day and age, you are going to be taking 90% of your photos with this handy little device.  

First and foremost, there are two apps you must download on your iPhone now:

1)  Moldiv - photo collage editor. I use it for its ability to add fun filters and create varying sized images (not all square or rectangle).  It’s a little different from instagram and you don’t have to post the images you take anywhere, you can just save them to your camera roll.

2) Postal Pix - order prints directly from your phone. I don’t know about you; but, I take a lot of photos on my phone and I don’t have the time to hook my phone up to my computer, download the photos I want, FIND them on my computer, then upload them to a photo ordering website.  I just want to do it on my phone.  Now I recognize that you will be sacrificing print quality and the hi-resolution images; but, our intent is not to put an iPhone photo up in an 11 x14 frame on the wall.  Postal Pix has been a great and easy resource for small instagram prints or your traditional format images, as well. I recognize most of our photo needs are going digital; but, I’m still a traditionalist when it comes to creating albums of our everyday moments.  

Tip #1: Striking a Pose
So now that you have your phone all geared up with some great apps, you’re ready to rock and roll, and your kid clams up at the sight of your phone.  I don’t know about you; but, I’ll do whatever it takes to get a kid to laugh so I can get that great shot.  Try singing him/her a song and getting him/her to join in.  Ask him/her to tell you a story or about a funny memory (if he/she can talk).  Make a funny face and ask him/her what’s wrong. You know the drill; but, you have to be willing to go there if you want your little one to give you the money shot.

Tip #2: Adjusting for weird lighting
If you are in a room with varying light, your iPhone will adjust according to where you are pointing it If your child is standing in front of a well-lit window, touch the screen where the camera is focusing on your child’s face and it will adjust the autofocus to him/her, rather than the light in the background, leaving your subject very dark.  Play around with the way you fill the frame, don’t be afraid to click around a bit until you get the right lighting.  Remember: you will need to continue to entertain said child, so maybe figure out the lighting before starting your song and dance routine. The good news is that you can take LOTS of images in quick succession.

Try off-center framing or angling the camera downward a touch to cut out the bright sky behind him/her.  Get on the floor and shoot at his/her level…

Implement a few of these tips and you’ll feel like a pro in no time!    

Here are a few iPhone shots I’ve recently snapped:

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edited with Moldiv

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baby/mama selfie edited with instagram

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edited with Moldiv

The sky is the limit with the new technology available to us.  Have fun with your smartphone and recognize that there are “kodak moments” all around us…you just have to know where to look.

much love. xo

check out my photography website over at http://amberlilyestromphotography.com/

Each snowflake falling down outside is a memory. 

Every movement. smile. giggle. first…all memories.

Our lives are collections of memories. 

Ones worthy of hanging on our walls.

Some not.

…….

I want you (and me) to know that we all need *snow days*.

Time to pause…look out the window and wonder.

Time to ask questions. Time to not know the answers.

Time for naps on mama’s chest.

Time for tears.

Time for love.

"your calling is ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.’"  -Buechner

your ego vs. your calling - check this out. 
http://www.inc.com/shelley-prevost/5-ways-to-distinguish-your-calling-from-your-ego.html

I was talking with my mom about art and emotion and how I was really grateful that she raised my brother and I to express emotion through our music and photography and writing.  We both have regular “day jobs;” but spend free time expressing ourselves through our own personal forms of art.  It’s spiritual, really, and I hope my daughter finds her own forms of self-expression as she grows up.

So in the spirit of self-expression…here are a few recently taken photos of mine.

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I’m fortunate to have such fantastic “subjects” to practice my photography with. 

I said goodbye to my therapist today.

She is retiring and moving on to her next chapter…which is especially poignant, we realized together, because I am too. 

I go back to work on Monday, December 2nd. I feel ok and freaked out and ok again about it all at once.  I am a new person now. I’m not the almost-mama-still-girl-person that I used to be. 

I used to define myself through the external. Roles. Images (perceived and otherwise). But I’ve learned so much over these last two years.  I’ve learned there’s no place for that here anymore.

…….

My therapist and I did some massive work together.

She held the space with me in a really powerful way and helped me find the courage to take on some big stuff. Stuff that I had buried underneath layers of self-hatred.  Stuff I avoided with every ounce of my being.  There was a time I truly believed I would never move past these things and she gave me the tools to begin…one step at a time.

We slowly walked down the path together, me, knowing I was in a safe place for the first time in my life.  A place where I could do *this* work.

……

It occurred to me today that I began my therapy in a body that could not even begin to fathom the idea of pregnancy.  Candidly, I could not physically have even gotten pregnant at that time…and here I am today, 2 years later, with a beautiful 3-month old daughter.

So this time we spent working together was far more than just therapy.
It was healing, in every sense of the word.

When she asked me today if I felt proud of myself, I nodded through happy tears. It was all I could muster with the realization of where this journey has taken me. She told me how proud of me she was too and we ended our chapter together today feeling…knowing we did good work here.

…….

As I was preparing to leave from today’s final meeting, I gave her a note and a heart-shaped rock.  She was surprised when I handed it to her because, she too, collects heart-shaped rocks…a fact we had not shared with one another before.

So here we go, on to new chapters (and shores)…hopefully dotted with lots of heart-shaped rocks.

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When BIG things happen in my life, like the birth of my daughter, my instagram feed gets a little obsessed. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.  This is my life now.  I’m a mama.  I’m a lot of things. 

amber lilyestrom

* mama. soul mate. sister friend. marketing mind. writer. self-proclaimed-semi-pro iphone photographer *

http://instagram.com/ambereve7

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1.  No judgment…of oneself, of others, of the past.

2.  Everything must be grounded in L.O.V.E…choices. reactions. perceptions…all have to emanate from a place of love. 

3.  All major decisions must radiate from a place of inner peace.  There is no place for chaos or self-inflicted chaos, especially when it’s created in attempt to distract from our inner noise. 

4.  You already have everything you will ever need. Your spirit and the spirit of your loved ones are eternal.  The order of things are unfolding exactly as they are intended.  Your journey will continue on this path, as long as you allow it to.  Get out of your own way.

5.  Listen to your inner spirit. It will not steer you incorrectly if you tune in to your true voice. 

6.  Pursue your passion.  Your true calling is all around you. Be still.  Feel it.  Allow it to pour out of you.  Give your gift to others.

7.  There is no place for angst, worry, or stress in this body.  Tomorrow does not exist.  This moment is the only guarantee.  Focus on your present to influence your tomorrow. 

8.  Let go.  Let go of your desire to control every little thing in your life.  Judgment, angst and stress will creep in to each little crevice of your life if you let it.

9.  Your body is a physical representation of your inner turmoil or your inner peace.  Give up the toxicity and tension and watch your body transform.

10.  Drink water.  Lots and lots of water.  Flush out the bad stuff and let the goodness flow. 

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**Bonus**

11.  You are enough.  You are enough simply because you exist.  It’s time to believe it.

I’m an extremely visual person. So much so that I often draw out my plans. I create what I call a “life map” to chart where I think I’m at with all things. It is usually a series of circles with words in them all connected by lines in some sort of chronological configuration that probably only makes sense to me.

I had a really intense physical therapy session yesterday. It’s not your average PT session as it involves long needles being strategically placed in my back to engage my muscles to increase blood flow and healing. Sounds physiologically pretty simple, but my physical therapist (and dear friend) has also taught me that the body holds stress. I realize that sounds rather obvious; but, it goes deeper than stress. I learned that the body holds memories, episodes from our lives. Oftentimes, these physical experiences can be ones that have caused emotional pain that need to be released in order for the true healing to occur.

Yesterday’s session helped me access an experience that I thought I had let go, when in reality, I had been just trying to bury. When Krystal began my needling we worked on a part of my back we had never addressed before and immediately, as I felt the pain of the needle go in, I started having a hard time breathing. I flashed back to the operating room during my c-section 3 months ago. I wrote about this experience in an earlier post, but the reader’s digest version is that the spinal tap I received went “high” and in effect froze my diaphragm, thus making it near impossible to breathe without assistance from a BVM.

As Krystal applied the needles I felt a great deal of angst and struggle and was instantly morphed back to that moment in my life when I truly thought I might not survive. The difference now was that I knew I was safe. Despite the pain I felt in the physical moment, this time it was different. It was purposeful and knew I had to stick with it instead of fight it. I was surrounded by love and this was the time to work through the hurt that I had been carrying with me since my daughter’s birth.

As the session continued, I began to access other parts of my mind and think about the future, my true calling and where I want to go on my journey. I’m excited to grab a pen and paper today to map out what I saw. I feel like the vision of what lies ahead has opened up to unlock the self-imposed shackles I’ve put on each day for far too long. I look forward to illustrating that further for you soon. But it’s an exciting sensation to know in my heart that the possibilities that lie ahead are truly boundless.