Sabrina Fields Photography » Photographer of New Beginnings

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2017 Shoot & Share Contest

Please forgive me… it’s been over two weeks since I last posted and this has probably been the longest I’ve gone in between posts since we went on our two week honeymoon over 5 years ago!  I keep telling people that we’re still in survival mode, but Isabella is 6 weeks old.  Surely I’ll be coming out of this fog soon… right? :-)

One of the things that helped me get through the first few weeks of her life and those multiple middle of the night feedings was the annual Shoot & Share photo contest.  It was the same thing that helped me through Catherine’s newborn days and part of me was really sad when voting was over because what was I going to do now??

I won’t go into the full history of Showit and PASS and Shoot & Share, but let’s just say that I’ve been with all of them for a good bit of time now and I completely believe in all of them.  The Shoot & Share contest started in 2014 and I’ve entered every year.  And each year the photos just get better and better.  It’s a free contest open to anyone from anywhere in the world and each person can enter up to 50 photos.  This year there were 25 categories you could enter photos into so I submitted 50 images into 13 different categories.

Once the voting is open, anyone can vote.  Kids, teens, adults, senior citizens, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve ever held a camera or not!  If you can operate a computer, you can vote.  The way it works is that four images from one category pop up at a time.  You choose your favorite of the four and then four more pop up.  This literally keeps going forever, which quickly and easily causes an addiction… the best part is that no names or logos or any photographer information is associated with the photos so you aren’t voting for the photographer (as many contests end up being popularity contests), you’re voting for JUST the image.  So it’s 100% fair!

Each year, I learn lots of different things as I spend hours upon hours voting.  And 2017 was no different.  So, since I love some bullet points, here are the lessons I learned from this year’s contest:

  • If succulents are in a ring shot, there’s a 99% chance I’m going to vote for it.
  • Cotton fields must be a new thing because there were so many photos in cotton fields!  So beautiful!
  • Wanderlust was by far my favorite category… give me all the castles, water scenes and colorful European buildings!
  • I really want to spend more time with the groom on a wedding day.  There were some incredible shots of these guys and it’s as much their day as it is the bride’s.  And I really don’t think my brides would mind some epic shots of their men :-)
  • I want and need to change how I shoot first dances.  I’ve become stagnant in where I stand and what I capture (none of which is bad!), but I’m realizing I want to be more creative than I have been in the past.
  • It’s been on my To-Do list for ages but I REAAAALLLLY want to get a styled shoot together.  But I need to figure out the WHY behind doing it so that it’s more than just a reason to get some pretty photos. I think once I figure that part out, then I’ll have an easier time making it happen.
  • Naked babies are the cutest thing in the world.  That is all.
  • Photos with people genuinely laughing will always bring a smile to my face!  Which is why I love capturing those for my own couples :-)
  • Older couples who have been together for decades actually cause my heart to grow.  It’s a fact.
  • I’ve already started a list of photos to enter into the 2018 contest.  It’s never too early to start preparing!

So, which of my photos did I enter?  Well, I’m not going to post all 50, but I will share the ones that made it into at least the top 30% of their categories.  I’m always so excited to see any of my images do well because it still reflects back to my couples who allow me to do what I love!  So, it’s fun for me to see their memories rewarded too!

I SCREAMED when I saw this one won 4th place!  Never in a million years did I expect any image to do so well!!  This was from Brandon and Colleen’s Clemson wedding and I’m still so excited!  There were 7,635 photos entered into the Details: Cake, Flowers & Decor category and this one won 4th!  Ahh!

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And this dreamy trike with its basket of flowers from Amy & Andrew’s Charleston wedding?  It was in the Top 100 of the same category!  What?!?  So exciting!

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Images that were named “Finalists” made it to the last round (Round 12) of the contest.
This year THREE of my photos were Finalists!

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To give you an idea of how much this contest has grown, in 2015, the “Details: Ring Shot” category had 3,170 photos entered and one of my images made it to 22nd place.  I was THRILLED!!  In 2017, there were 8,304 photos submitted to the Ring Shot category (yes, it almost tripled!), so to have one of my photos make it to the final round in this category was amazing!!

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I’m telling you, if no other of my photos had gotten past the first round besides the one that was 4th place, it wouldn’t have mattered.  Even if none of my photos had placed at all, it wouldn’t have mattered because I do what I do for my couples, not to win contests.

But to have several be in the top 10%, 20% and 30% of their categories was so much fun!  I’m telling you… my couples keep upping their game and I am so excited to keep documenting memories for them!  If 2016 was this incredible, I can’t WAIT to see what 2017 holds!

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Isabella Grace’s Birth Story

I’d really hoped to have this posted before Isabella turned a month old (today), but having a newborn and a toddler at home makes things a little more tricky for getting things done.  I know I’m supposed to sleep when they’re sleeping (which is a small 1.5-2 hour window each day – if I’m lucky!), but let’s face it, that’s possibly happened once in the last month.  I finally had a chance to edit the images for this post (don’t ask me about the rest of them!) and am taking today’s nap time to write everything down.  So, here it goes…

When Catherine was born, I did almost everything short of drinking castor oil to get labor started!  In the end, my water broke the day before her due date and even though I’d progressed to 7cm in about 22 hours, she still wasn’t showing signs of dropping into the birth canal so instead of trying to keep going, we opted for a c-section and she was born the morning of her due date!  You can read her birth story HERE.

Because of all of that, my doctor said there was an 80% chance that my body would do the same thing with any other pregnancies so around 28 weeks, we scheduled Isabella’s c-section for February 21 at 1pm with Dr. DuBose.  I would be 39 weeks and 1 day when she was born.  It was all set and I was excited that we had a plan! No waiting around hoping and praying labor would start, no walking stairs countless times to try and get her to drop, no eating pineapple or spicy foods unless I just really wanted them :-)  Ben’s parents were going to fly in from Paraguay the week before, we would celebrate Catherine’s 2nd birthday, then have a couple more days as a family of 3 before meeting Isa (pronounced Ee-sa).

I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a good bit of this pregnancy, which actually scared me enough to say quite often that I really hoped she would stay put until February 21!  But I never thought too much of it because we had several things planned and scheduled for the last weeks leading up to her scheduled birthday.  But by the weekend of the Super Bowl, things started getting a little more intense.

Some friends had planned a small evening out at the Melting Pot for me on Friday, February 3.  In the hour it took to drive there and be seated, I’d had about 8 contractions.  They weren’t coming at timely intervals and they were still just Braxton Hicks (or so I thought) so while I was concerned, I wasn’t worried.  Especially after they calmed down and eventually stopped.  Saturday was fairly uneventful and I even went up to the hospital to see a friend and her baby who was in the NICU and get some photos for her.  I went home and we went back out for dinner and gelato with friends that night.  Sunday morning we went to church as usual and came home for lunch and to figure out what we wanted to eat while watching the Super Bowl that night.

I have photos of us hanging out with Catherine (mostly with me on the couch because I was editing to get some work done and my “Braxton Hicks” were starting to pick up so I was trying to take it easy) and her in my lap while I was editing.  I love it even more now since it’s the last one I have of the two of us before Isa came!  Ben went to the store and started getting food ready for the evening, I kept editing (after a wedding, a birth, and a maternity session the weekend before, there was plenty to be working on!), and around 7:30 or so, we put Catherine to bed.

We watched the game and I started keeping count of my contractions.  I was still convinced they were Braxton Hicks even though some of them were starting to get really painful.  There was just NO way they could be real contractions.  I was 36 weeks and 6 days along, we still had two weeks and a couple days before Isa was going to be born so what was there to be concerned about??  I have no idea how far apart these contractions were because I still thought they were Braxton Hicks, so I was only counting the number of contractions I was having, not how far apart they were.  So by midnight, I called the on-call nurse to ask about it because I’d had between 6 to 10 per hour since the football game had started.  She told me to keep counting but to go and eat some protein and drink plenty of water but if it continued for the next 3 hours, I should go to the hospital for them to check me.

So I told Ben to go to bed and get some sleep (just in case) and I stayed up to eat a spinach salad with grilled chicken, some cheese and almonds (I tried finding ALL the protein we had in the house!), drink water and I attempted to keep working.  By about 2:30am I’d been having at least 10 contractions an hour so I woke Ben up asking if he thought we should go to the hospital… but when I woke him up, he didn’t even realize that it was after 2am!  He was thinking that he’d only been asleep for about 20 minutes :-)

TIME OUT – I’d had the thought over the weekend that we should go ahead and pack our bags for the hospital, just in case.  I’d also mentioned to Ben that we should go ahead and install the carseat, just in case.  But with several photo sessions to edit, I chose to keep working through the weekend instead of getting those things ready.  Because we still had PLENTY of time!!

So at 2:42am, I called my mom to ask her to come stay with Catherine while we went to the hospital to get me checked out.  We threw a few things into a bag (just in case this was really happening) and I got my camera and a few lenses ready (again, just in case!).  Before mom arrived, I walked into Catherine’s room and laid my hand on her while she slept.  I resisted the urge to pick her up and rock her for a bit because that would have woken her up and she doesn’t do well being woken up, especially in the middle of the night.  But I laid my hand on her chest, told her I loved her and cried because that was possibly the last time she was going to be our only child!

Even on the way to the hospital, Ben and I were sure that they would send us home after monitoring me for a while.  There were so many things happening that week too!  The next day I had a newborn session to photograph as well as MY maternity photos that afternoon (hair & make-up and flower crowns for Catherine and me), on Tuesday the ladies at crossfit were throwing a diaper shower for me, Wednesday was the volunteer sale for the BIG consignment sale in Greenville (and I really needed some summer clothes for Catherine!) and then I was going to spend the next week finishing up work and finally getting Isa’s nursery ready (it needed a second coat of paint and the furniture needed to be pulled out of their boxes and the crib had to be assembled!).

We calmly walked up to the 6th floor of Greenville Memorial and I stopped to take a quick restroom break… and to also take this selfie because I was indeed a little annoyed :-)

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After changing into a gown and getting hooked up to the blood pressure and heart monitor machines, we waited.  We texted a few more friends who wouldn’t see anything until the morning’s regular hours, we talked, and Ben held my hand during the really rough contractions.  At one point I looked over at the paper spilling out of the machine that was monitoring my contractions and I knew they were way too regular for us to be going home.  And when the nurse came back in about 45 minutes after we’d gotten there, I knew it before she said it, “You’re going to have a baby today!”

And I burst into tears!  At that point, they were mostly tears of pure shock because I could NOT believe that this baby was actually going to be born 3 weeks before her real due date.  I was only 37 weeks along!  I had several friends who were past their due date and still waiting on their babies, but ours was going to be 3 weeks early?!?

Total and complete shock… but happy and so excited at the same time.

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So I was wheeled to the recovery room we’d be going into after the c-section and we began touching base with our parents and any of our friends who had actually responded to our texts.  The one call I did make was to my friend Amy Keely about coming up to take photos.  The nurses said she’d more than likely be able to come into the operating room for the entire procedure (yay!) so I texted her, then called her and left her a voicemail.  It was 5am so I kept my fingers crossed that she would wake up enough to get back to me and be able to make it up to the hospital before 6am.

The original plan was for my friend Kim DeLoach to be there for photos on February 21, but she was just getting over the flu so I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to be there.  And she would have been the first to tell me to try and find someone else if I HAD called her!  And the reason I called Amy was because we were going to grab coffee that very week for her to ask questions about birth photography because of friend of hers was hiring her to photograph her birth later in the spring!  So, when Amy did call me back, I asked how she felt about some “on the job training” :-)  Thankfully she was up for it and made it to the hospital in time to put one some scrubs and get a quick run down of my camera from Ben as they wheeled me back to the OR to prep me for surgery (after second shooting my last wedding with me on January 28, she’d taken her camera to the shop to have it calibrated).

I know y’all are dying to see photos, so I’ll fill in the gaps as you scroll through…

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Breathing through more contractions than I ever thought I’d have to… while c-sections were never a part of my plan, I am actually grateful that I was able to experience my water breaking with Catherine and then to experience “real” contractions with Isabella.  But even more grateful that I didn’t have to go through too many more of these because I know they only would have gotten worse.

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Amy and I had texted a few times as she was waking up, but then we decided talking on the phone would be much easier!

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And I couldn’t help it, but I did take a few photos while we were waiting… Ben took the rest until we went into the OR.

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The anesthesiologist giving me the low down on everything…

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And then Amy arrived!

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The rest of these are in the OR and in recovery… ALL thanks to Amy so that Ben could be in the photos too!  Seriously, Amy, we are so thankful you woke up so early to come and capture this day for us!

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Dr. DuBose was on call that day (she’s in the darker scrub cap), which was perfect because she was supposed to do the c-section on February 21 anyway!  Plus, February 6 was also her birthday so it was fun to celebrate her while she delivered our baby girl!

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Isabella Grace and her first breaths… she was not a happy camper.

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And we LOVE this one because Isa looks so bored!

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I’m beyond impressed that Ben stood up to look over the curtain!

IsabellaGrace-Birth-117 And as with every birth – but especially my own! – I was crying when I heard those first cries.

IsabellaGrace-Birth-118 IsabellaGrace-Birth-119 Just a few hours before this we didn’t think we’d be meeting our second daughter that day…
and now, we were laying eyes on her for the first time!

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IsabellaGrace-Birth-124 IsabellaGrace-Birth-125 This sweet nurse has been at other births that I’ve photographed so it was fun to see her before my c-section and realized that we’d worked together before!

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IsabellaGrace-Birth-135 Look at that sweet/angry little face!!

IsabellaGrace-Birth-136 IsabellaGrace-Birth-137 IsabellaGrace-Birth-138 IsabellaGrace-Birth-139 IsabellaGrace-Birth-140 It’s such a small thing, but I was SO excited when one of the nurses brought us a hat with a bow in it!!

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IsabellaGrace-Birth-146 IsabellaGrace-Birth-147 This was when the tears came all over again!

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To see more Birth Stories, click here.
For more information about me capturing your own baby’s birth or Fresh 48 Session, click here.

Her Planned Due Date

Today was “supposed” to be the day we met Isabella Grace.  The plan was to drop Catherine at Ben’s sister’s house and head over to the hospital to check in at 11am.  Then the c-section was scheduled for 1pm today.  By this time, we were going to have Isa’s nursery ready, all of my work would have been finished over a week ago, and I would have stocked up on things for the house before I wouldn’t have been able to drive for a couple of weeks.

It’s been two weeks and a day, but I’m STILL in shock that Isabella came so early.  I’ll share more of her full birth story later but the day she came, I was exactly 37 weeks, so there was no reason for the doctor to stop contractions or to try and keep Isa where she was.  So instead of 1pm on February 21, she was born at 6:36am on February 6!  But her sweet spirit and her constant smiles (mostly in her sleep!) have brought us so much joy!  And as a friend pointed out, we’ve had two bonus weeks with her that we weren’t expecting!

An amazing thank you goes out to our talented friends who stepped in two weeks before any of us thought they’d need to for these photos!

Amy Keely came up to the hospital at 6am to capture her birth:
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And then Kendra came to the hospital the next day for some Fresh48 photos.  It was the perfect chance to have photos (other than the birth!) of just us with Isabella.  She’s going to have plenty of photos with her sister so this was just about her :-)
To see more of this Fresh48 session, head over to Kendra’s blog!

Kendra Martin Photography

And finally, Courtney Malone came two weeks early to take Isa’s newborn photos at home.  Lots of people have been asking how Catherine is doing with her little sister and she’s always asking or calling for the “bébé”!  It’s so sweet.  This morning she even stuck her hands out to Isa (while she was dozing in the kitchen) to dance with her!  We’re just hoping she still wants to do that a year from now :-)
IsabellaGrace-7283  Once we start edging out of “survival mode” over here, I’ll post Isabella’s full birth story.  Until then, I’m SO THANKFUL for my amazing clients and potential clients who have been so understanding over these past couple of weeks since Isa surprised us by coming early.  I truly love having my dream job, but it’s even more worth it since I have dream clients too!

Introducing Isabella Grace

It’s funny (ironic probably) that the post from last Monday was the last birth I photographed before Isabella arrived.  Monday February 6 was Reece’s due date, but thankfully he decided to come a little bit early since our own baby decided to come THREE WEEKS before her own due date!

I’ll share the full story later, but Isa decided she wanted to come two weeks and a day before her scheduled c-section.  She was 7lbs 4oz and arrived (still via c-section) on February 6 at 6:36am.  She’s a week old today and we’re still in shock that she’s here… but we’re SO thankful!  She’s beautiful and healthy and our little family of 4 is over the moon (even if we are a bit sleep deprived before we thought we’d be!).

So for now, here she is… we’re completely smitten and I’ll be back to blogging after we’ve adjusted a little bit :-)

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Cyn Taylor - February 13, 2017 - 9:16 am

Just beautiful, guys! Congrats!

melissa - February 16, 2017 - 9:43 am

Congratulations! Get some sleep when both little ones do, and don’t feel bad about it! :)

Coleman Reese | Atlanta Birth Photographer | Northeast Georgia Medical Center

Amy called me around 4:30am on Saturday, January 28 to say her water had broken and they were heading to the hospital.  I was excited for them but had torn emotions because my last wedding before maternity leave was that day too!  Amy had known that from the beginning though and since they’ve been in front of my camera so much in the last year and a half, she and Andrew were so understanding of whatever needed to happen.  But she promised to keep me up to date on everything going on.

The doctor actually sent them home later that morning for her to labor at home because contractions hadn’t fully started yet and she would be so much more comfortable in her own bed… and where she could eat!  I told her to try and rest as best she could and to let me know when they were on their way back to the hospital.

Later that evening, she sent me a text that they were back at the hospital and staying put until they had a baby, doctor’s orders :-)  But she hadn’t progressed much even though contractions were stronger so we decided we’d both try and rest and check in the following morning.

At 4:10am, she texted me that not much had changed but it had almost been 24 hours so she wasn’t sure if a c-section was in her future or not.  Her “birth plan” was to get the baby here safely so she was ok with whatever needed to be done.  Since this was the case, I decided to head on down and left my house around 5am and arrived at the hospital just after 7am.

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Thankfully, the most important outfit was ready to be worn!  Go Tigers!!

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Turns out her water had not completely broken the morning before and the baby was doing perfectly fine where he was, so the doctor let her continue to labor through the morning.  Around 9am, she was 3cm and as soon as they fully broke her water, she immediately went to 4cm.  The next hour was fully of pressure and contractions… little did we know that Reese was working hard to make his way into the world because when Amy was checked an hour later, she was at 10cm!

NONE of us could believe it.  Not even the doctors and nurses! Most of us had made guesses that Reese would join us early to mid-afternoon.  But it wasn’t even noon yet!

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Amy and Andrew’s families were there and it was time to start pushing.

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The best thing a mama in labor can have is an amazing support system.  And Andrew was EXACTLY that.  He was so encouraging and loving and never left her side.  He knew exactly what to tell her to encourage her to keep going and Amy was a rock star!

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After 25 minutes of pushing… Coleman Reese was born at 12:15pm.

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While Amy and Andrew were overwhelmed with emotion, I was trying to hold back my own sobs.
And doing a really bad job with it!

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So many favorites, but this is at the top.

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9lbs 7oz of cuteness!

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Insert ALL the heart eyed emojis right here…

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Daddy had some skin-to-skin time before Reese met the rest of his family.

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The grandmas were over the moon!

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And we all started crying again when Amy’s twin sister arrived :-)

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Aunt Sarah was over the moon and immediately in love!

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Andrew with two of his three brothers (the other one was on his way!).

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But he and his wife made it :-)

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High fives from Andrew’s dad are so rare that something really big has to happen…. like getting married or having a baby :-)
So two high fives were given last Sunday!

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To see more Birth Stories, click here.
For more information about me capturing your own baby’s birth or Fresh 48 Session, click here.