madison | bismarck senior photographer

This was one session that I was looking forward to all summer!  Way back in the year 2000, I attended my first year of college at Dickinson State University.  This family lived in Dickinson, and they were kind enough to take me under their wing for that first year that I spent away from home.  Jay helped me find my first job working for the Parks and Rec, where I started out coaching 5th grade flag football, which was probably one of my top 5 memorable moments from my college years.  I had the opportunity to babysit Madison and Zane on several occasions, but more often Madison while her mom and brother attended swimming lessons, and Sandra always repaid me with home baked cookies and an offer to stop over to their house anytime.  It was so comforting knowing that they were there if I needed anything, and I am not sure I even told them how appreciative I was of that, but I’m telling them now!  Thank you!  If my math is correct, Madison would have been about 4 years old at the time, and she always had a way of talking me into whatever she wanted!  It makes me laugh thinking about some of the things she talked me into, always ending her argument with, “my dad alllllways lets me do {fill in the blank}.”  Now that I have a 4 year old myself, well, I think I need to have a long talk with our babysitter the next time she’s over!  I have a really embarassing story I could tell about Zane, but I think I’ll save that for a few years down the road when he’s a senior!

So, it was very exciting for me to connect with this family again, and have the opportunity to photograph them before Madison started her senior  year.  She has turned out to be such a beautiful girl, inside and out.  I had a great time chatting with her about her interests, and it is obvious why her parents are so proud of her.  She loves spending time with little kids and she even spent part of her summer vacation on a mission trip.  I’d say she has a bright future ahead of her!

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sharmain ziegler - I look foward to reading your posts. It makes me feel as though I know the families. You seem to make a connection with your families you photograph.

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mya on day six | bismarck newborn baby photography

Little Mya was my first real session in my new newborn studio! She was the first and one of my most favorite newborn sesssions to date.  I had the opportunity to photograph the rest of her family last fall, and when I heard they were expecting another baby girl, I was thrilled!  This family is so easy-going and laid back.  Their older girls are polite and out-going, and I know they are going to be such great older sisters for Mya to look up to.

newborn baby with upcycled hatnewborn on pink backgroundposed newborn baby photographysleeping newborn photonewborn baby close up photonewborn baby on cable knit blanketnewborn baby with flower headbandnewborn in wooden bowl with blanketbaby in a wooden bowl

sharmain ziegler - How sweet!

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the butcher-piehl-mack families | mandan family photographer

Who knew one sweltering hot, humid and sweaty day could be so much fun?  I don’t normally take on large, extended family sessions, but for some reason my gut told me I had to do this one and I’m so glad I did.  This session took place back in July, and thankfully the timing was just right because, due to the miles between them, this family doesn’t get everyone together all that often.  I traveled all the way southwest of Mandan (hey for a northeast Bismarck resident, that’s a long way!) and was so pleasantly surprised when I came down the hill and rounded the corner to find the most beautiful and unique little farm that one-third of this group calls home.  Whoever said that North Dakota is only a lot of flat, ugly, and frozen nothing was dead wrong!

I very much enjoyed spending a few hours getting to know this family.  I had a private tour of their home and their amazing collection of local artwork, visited the horses, learned a lot about a train station in Essex, Montana, and laughed at (and a couple times worried about) the adventures of young boys.  Not bad for a day’s work!

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sharmain ziegler - What a cute family! Grandma and grandpa look so blessed.

Marnie Piehl - We are so grateful that you made that trek Megan! These photos mean the world and who knew we were so good looking? Thank you again for your wonderful work!

Michelle Farnsworth - Love these photos! Everyone looks so natural, beautiful and happy. Great family! Love you guys!

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the will family | bismarck, nd family photography

I’ve mentioned it before that I am a volunteer for Red Thread Sessions.  But I want to explain why.

Several years ago, I was driving in my car at a time of day that I normally wouldn’t be driving.  As usual, I was flipping through the radio stations, hoping to hear a decent song, and I came across a Christian talk radio program that I had never heard before.  In fact, I don’t even remember now what the program was.  But in those 10 minutes that I listened, I heard one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard.  It was a story that has literally changed my perspective on life in so many ways.

A man was talking about how he and his wife struggled with infertility for years.  I personally have not struggled with infertility, but it did strike a chord with me because I have lost a pregnancy and I did go through a time where I questioned if I would ever have children like I had always imagined.  So I continued to listen on.  He described the anger and loss of hope he experience during this time in his life.  He and his wife would be the perfect parents.  They would be able to provide for their children, not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  Why would God not bless them with a child?  He began to keep a journal about their infertility struggles and for more than a year, he wrote in his journal almost daily.  After much loss and heartache, they were led to adoption and went on to adopt their son.  Time went on and one day, he was reminded of his journal.  He decided to dig it out and began paging through it, and he came to an entry that he very vividly remembered writing.  His memory and the words on the page reminded him of how he was feeling that day and how angry he was in that moment about all of the pain he and his wife had been through while trying to conceive a child.  And then he looked at the date of that particular journal entry and realized what had happened.

The day he wrote that angry and desperate journal entry was the birthdate of his son.  The day he felt so hopeless, God was at work in a way he could have never imagined at the time.

Thinking about that story brings me goosebumps and tears every time.  When I am struggling with something or angry about events in my life, I am comforted when I wonder what is God doing right now that will eventually make all of this make sense.  It hurts my heart to know that there are children out there who have nobody to care for them.  Children who have had to endure more in their short lives than we can ever imagine.  On the other side, there are families longing to take care of and love those children.  But I also know that God is working in ways that we can never know.  And that is why I feel a connection to adoption.  And while I’m not sure that God is calling me to adopt a child, I know that he is asking me to do something to help.  So I volunteer for Red Thread Sessions, in hope that using one of the talents that I have and the time that I have can bring some comfort and joy to those families who have endured a lot of pain and heartache in order to bring their son or daughter home.

Here is a very special Red Thread Session that I was able to do this summer.  How their children came into their lives is not my story to tell, but I do think that, just in looking at these images, you can see a large part of that story.  They are a family and they deeply love one another.  And it was my privilege to have been able to capture that for them.

family adoptionsisters having funolder boy portraiteveryday art photographychild pictures outdoorsgirl with a big smile

sharmain ziegler - You do amazing work! You capture the joy in their eyes.

Sara Ness - Beautiful, Megan!

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jayden at 9 days | bismarck newborn photography

This little boy came into this world having no idea what he was getting into.  His grandpa is one of the biggest baby hogs I know and so there was never any doubt that once Jayden arrived, everyone would have to fight to snuggle him.  But I think I won the war because I got a whole 2.5 hours with him all to myself during this session!  And I am obviously his favorite because he did everything I asked and even gave me a little, newborn smile.:)

Seriously, though, this sweet boy will never, ever have to wonder if he is loved.  When I married my husband, I had no idea that I would be so blessed with such an amazing extended family.  This family treats me like I have always been a part of it, they love my children as if they were their own, and if we are ever in need, there’s no doubt that they will be there.  The joy that Jayden has brought into their lives is so well-deserved.  I can’t wait to watch him grow up!

newborn boy sleeping with hatnewborn baby hands and feetnewborn in a bear hatbaby boy sleeping on neutral blanketnewborn baby in a minnow bucket

sharmain ziegler - He’s perfect!

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