The Hanson Family | Billings, Montana Photographer

Another day, another sweet sunset family session at Zimmerman Park. I don't know what it is about this time of year, but Zimmerman really has it all..the greens, the wildflowers, that really good last light.

Also, I'm not saying that Penny stole the show..buuuut..that face!

Jessica Byrum Photography has very few family session spots left for 2017! If you are wanting to book a family photo shoot with me, please do so as soon as possible!

If you are a returning client, make sure to check out JBP's VIP pricing!

Shaffer Family | Billings, Montana Maternity Photographer

My favorite part of documenting families with young children, is to just kind of let the kids do whatever they want. Sometimes mom and dad think I'm crazy and feel like we're not getting any good shots, but luckily I have a calendar filled with return clients who have learned to just trust me.

Jessica Byrum Photography is now booking maternity sessions for fall 2017 and beyond! Dates are limited, booking sooner rather than later is recommended. Pricing can be found here, return clients go here. Ask me about a stock release discount!

Ashley + Ryan | Engaged, Part II | Billings, Montana Engagement Photographer

These 2 are saying their vows on top of a mountain in Big Sky, Montana next weekend. We did their original engagement session in their home, so I insisted that we do a part II in the great outdoors, and while it stormed in Billings..we had perfect weather in Red Lodge.

And no, we had no fun at all. (That's a lie.)

Did you know that all weddings booked with Jessica Byrum Photography include complimentary engagement photos?

The Engels Family | Billings, Montana Family Photographer

I went to high school with Sarabeth, so when she agreed to do a quick little in-home family photoshoot for my ebook, I was thrilled that I would get to see her again. Her family is the absolute sweetest, and totally gave me living room envy.

Jessica Byrum Photography is now booking family photo sessions, both indoor and outdoor, for fall 2017 and beyond! Contact me today for more information.

Kendra | Missing 4 Pieces of Her Heart

Kendra, Wife & Mother, Age 37

"When I had three perfect pregnancies, I didn't think it would happen to me. I really didn't know about miscarriage and what it was all about. May sound dumb to some, but I didn't. I even threw away the miscarriage pamphlet they handed out. Because I didn't even think about it.

I really enjoy being pregnant; the good, the bad and the ugly. If I could, I would have six kids and be a surrogate.

When we found out we were pregnant with our fourth baby, we were so excited! I went on Pinterest and made little fabric pieces and put them on a spool and stamped on them and tied it off with twine to announce it. Little did I know at 10.5, almost 11 weeks, I would lose that baby..and the first piece of my heart.

That was the most heartbreaking, horrific thing I've ever gone through. The things I saw and the amount of blood, was so very sad, and honestly scary. I was scared. I remember that day so vividly.

I wish I could forget it.

My baby died. It was gone.

You think, did I do something? Maybe lifted something that was too heavy, or didn't eat correctly. Did I drink enough water? So many things come to your mind that maybe it was your fault. I believe in God, and feel that baby wasn't perfect and He needed that baby more than us. I didn't like it, but I still had faith that He knew what He was doing.

I was angry, scared, and sad. What if I didn't throw away that pamphlet?

I just want to say, I am so very thankful for our other babies, that's not a question at all. People who know me can see that. But it doesn't make it any easier when a miscarriage happens.

I have now had four..I can't believe that. My most recent was last week, at almost 9 weeks pregnant.

I can think of some things that I am thankful for, because in this I need to see some good. I am thankful I wasn't farther along, that I am alive, and that I got to see the heartbeat at 5 weeks and 6 days. Even though I've had many, I still question it and wonder if people are thinking, "Why can't she keep a baby?" Or other thoughts that people probably aren't even thinking.

I am sad, very sad. I enjoy being pregnant. I feel like I could write a book about what we've gone through. One day, I would like to sit and write it all out and keep it for me.

I do want to say, I have an amazing family. My husband also lost all of those babies, and I am thankful that he helps me get through this. I am thankful for the 4 sweet children I do have (including one rainbow baby), and I am thankful for numerous family and friends. I'm not the only one who goes through this, it affects us all.

I hope by talking about my story, that it'll help another woman speak about her story. It does help to talk about it. My story isn't better or worse than anyone else's, but it is my story.

I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through."

Autumn & Amery | Mommy + Me | Billings, Montana Family Photographer

Did you know that Jessica Byrum Photography offers milk bath mommy and me photo shoots? These are some of my favorite sessions..and they're not just for newborns.

Jessica Byrum Photography is now booking mommy and me sessions for fall 2017 in Billings, Montana and the surrounding areas! Contact me today for more booking information and availability. Limited session dates left for this year.

The Thomassen Family | Billings, Montana Maternity Photographer

Another adorable maternity photo session shot at Norm's Island in Billings, Montana. Jessica Byrum Photography books maternity sessions year round, for both in-home and on location shoots!

Are you expecting? Jessica Byrum likes to book maternity photos between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant, but the sooner you book, the better! Contact JBP today to book your photography session today!

My Body Is (Still) Not Ruined

(October 6, 2014)

 This is my body. It's going through a lot right now. 

I had a beautiful baby girl 8 months ago and I am 26 weeks pregnant with a little boy that has already stolen my heart. I also have a pretty bad chest cold that I'm trying to keep said 8 month old from getting.

I have stretch marks, a tattoo on my arm that I hate, my fingernail polish is chipping, and I probably should have thrown these panties away 2 sizes ago. My boobs don't hang the way they used to, I have what most people refer to as "back fat", and what is this thigh gap I keep hearing about?

I can't sleep at night. It takes me 20 minutes just to get my (five) pillows the way I like them. Then I have to pee. Then another 20 minutes to get settled again, just in time for the baby to need me. Then I doze off, and oh it's beautiful..until I roll to my right side in my sleep and wake up in a coughing fit. Dang.

I have heartburn. All the time. 

My feet are disappearing..again. I feel like I didn't enjoy them as much as I could have when I could see/reach them in the short amount of time I had with them between healing from a c-section and this baby bump growing (much faster than the first one, I might add..but I hear that's normal).

It's hard to breathe. Between this cold and my already smushed lungs. I sat in the middle of my living room floor at 3:00 AM last night, crying hysterically because I just wanted to be able to catch my breath..which didn't help the not being able to breathe thing, because I'm not a good crier.

I honestly can't remember the last time I shaved my legs. A week ago..maybe? My eye brows could use a wax, my swollen fingers keep me from wearing my wedding rings (I hate that), and everything is getting bigger..except my butt. I'm totally in-proportionate. 

This is my body..and I love it.

Why Seeing the Beauty Sucks Sometimes

I am a photographer.

I see the beauty in everything. And I mean..in..everything. Most people would say that's a great thing, and it is..most of the time. 

This morning I was up at 3:00 AM (it's now 5:00 AM). Not because of my 8 week old baby, not because of my 13 month old fighting a double ear infection..but because I couldn't stop thinking about what I was going to photograph today. (Ridiculous, right?)

I don't know what does it. I don't know if it's residual thoughts from a dream or a message sent to my brain from some source in outer space, but when it happens, I know that I am up for the day (even though I went to bed at midnight).

So now I'm up, drinking my coffee, waiting for sunrise to see if the day will bring me the light I desire to take pictures of the randomness that is my life. (Hopefully Harper will do something cute..oh, and Fisher is 2 months old today, so there's that.)

And don't get me started on holidays or birthday parties. 

I just want to enjoy them. I want to be invited to something and leave my camera at home so that I can just be part of the celebration. But then why do I have this big fancy thing?? Yes, it's for "work". But, I love documenting every day too. Okay, so I'll bring it, take a few shots and then put it away.

Right. Even if I were able to just "put it away", I still can't enjoy the party because my brain is going 100 miles an hour thinking, "oh, that would be a great photo!" and, "oh my gosh, do you see the light coming in that window?".

Well, maybe I'll just grab my cellphone and take a few pictures with that. 

Next thing I know, I'm standing on the table trying to get the right angle of the birthday boy blowing out his candles.

Then there's the plague of everyone knowing you did something today, and waiting to see the pictures. Yes, I went to the zoo with my kids..am I allowed to just have fun? Sure. But then why do I feel guilty that I don't have a dozen (usually more) photos documenting our little trip to share with everyone? (Don't worry, there will always be photos.)

The worst is when someone is suffering, like when my son was in the hospital last week. I don't know if it's my way of coping (or maybe just a distraction for a little while), but I have to document it. The raw emotion of when people are at their weakest..I'm drawn to it. (How sick is that, right?)

So, is it all in my head? Probably. Do I mind? Not really. 

Life is beautiful. Every little, random, ridiculous, amazing moment..and I want to photograph it all. (Even if I am usually sleep deprived.)


10 Minutes With My T3i (and a $150 lens)

We all want what we don't have..it's human nature.

I get asked (often) what I shoot with. Most people are surprised to hear that in my bag is a 60d and a Rebel T3i. I don't have any super fancy lenses, I don't know the next thing about the speed of my memory cards (who knew that was a thing?), and to be honest, I use my kit lens (18-55) a lot.

Yesterday, I grabbed my T3i, my 24mm 2.8 lens ($150 on Amazon) and my newborn (he'll be a month on Friday already..what??) and took some pictures. Why? Because I hadn't used that camera since July, the light in my bedroom was super yummy, and I had the idea for this blog post.

As a Canon user, I long for a Mark III..who doesn't? But, it's not in our budget. We are a one-income household with 2 babies in diapers. I'm lucky to get a Starbucks on the rare occasion that I get out of the house to go grocery shopping (did you know that kids and husbands have to eat every day?).

Yes, my 60d is my every day camera..but I do use my T3i for a backup. Both are crop sensor cameras, with limited ISO capabilities, and like 18 megapixels or something. The "fanciest" lens I own, is a 35mm 2.0 (which I love).

We live in an old trailer house, with lots of crooked walls and confined spaces. I can't get too far back for most photos, so when I saw that Canon was coming out with a 24mm 2.8 pancake lens for $150, I was ecstatic! It was a splurge for us, and I hate spending money on myself (I actually ordered and cancelled the order 2-3 times before I finally convinced myself I deserved this lens).

When it first got here (at 8:00 PM, so I had to wait until the next day to play with it..thank you UPS), I gave my daughter a bowl of cookies, put her in a spot of light in our kitchen, and took 300 pictures. I wasn't expecting super sharp images, or nice bokeh, or anything spectacular really. I was just happy to have a wide angle lens, because I'm a huge fan of getting the background into photos..I think it tells so much more of a story. 

I was surprised at how well this lens performed. 

The more photos I shared, the more comments I got. I get messages every day from people asking my settings for a photo, or how I edit. This tells me that I'm doing something right, which took me a long time to accept (sometimes I still don't). 

I have been a photographer (I hate calling myself that) for a few years now. When I started, I didn't know what I was doing..at all. I just had a fancy camera (my first was actually a point & shoot). When I finally figured out any real photographer has a DSLR, I saved up for my T3i (actually I think taxes paid for most of it). I thought I was now amazing. Turns out, Auto Mode is amazing. 

Then 2 years ago, my husband told me I could get a new camera for my birthday. I was so excited, but had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know there was such a thing as a crop sensor or a full frame. Had I known, I would have went with the 6d..not the 60d. Never the less, I was in love with my new "baby". But..I was still using Auto Mode.

I took some time off from photography while I was pregnant (2 years in a row). I took a few photos here and there, but didn't have the time or energy. 

In August of last year, we moved into our new home..our first home as a family (said 1970 trailer house). It isn't much, but it's ours..and luckily it has A TON of windows. 

I started seeing the light..literally. I saw the light coming into our home in a whole new way, and I forced myself to learn Manual Mode, because the photos I was getting in camera, were not what I saw in real life. So I Googled and YouTubed everything I needed to know about ISO, shutter speeds, aperture, and white balance. Finally! My photos started to look like what I saw in real life. 

My camera didn't get better..my lenses didn't get better. I got better. 

Would I trade all of the gear I have now for a Mark III? Absolutely (duh). But that's not going to happen, so I will keep mastering what I have (that's the key point here, so I'll say it again..MASTER WHAT YOU HAVE).

I learn something new every time I pick up my camera. I embrace the grain I get from my low ISO capabilities, I contour my body into freakish postures (this doubles as my daily yoga) to get interesting angles and make my small spaces work for me, and I put my whole heart into my photos. 

If you do that, you can't fail at photography. A camera can (and probably will) let you down. But if you know WHY your photos aren't looking like you want them to look, you can fix them. And that knowledge, is priceless.