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Bethany O Photography

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How Bellani Maternity Has Changed My Life. And a Huge January Promotion.

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Bethany O Photography_0357.jpg

Above:  A photo from the Big Latch On event I photographed at Bellani Maternity this summer.  I later did a family session for this radiant baby and her lovely parents.

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As a small business owner, it's important to me to go out of my way for my clients.  To get to known them and to provide a level of service that I am tremendously proud to represent.  A customer experience that injects every dollar my clients invest in me with tremendous value.

I learned a lot about the added value that a small local business can offer though my experiences with Kelly LaChance Guertin of Bellani Maternity.

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Bethany O Photography_0358.jpg

[Above:  A photo of Kelly with her three kids last summer.]

I realize this post is gonna read a bit like an advertisement, and that's not my intention.  Genuinely good reviews just sound a little like ads, and there aint nothin' I can do 'bout that.

But if you read my blog, you know that truth is of the utmost importance to me in life and in my business.  I would smash my beloved camera to the cement before I promoted a business here that I do not believe in.

The following is just information I think you should know.

I found Bellani Maternity five years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and searching for a local maternity yoga class.  I later learned that it is owned and lovingly operated by a (North Kingstown) high school acquaintance.

I first thought Bellani was just a shop for classes and maternity and infant gear but quickly learned it is so, so very much more.

Here are three of the many ways that Bellani Maternity has changed my life, ranging from least to most important:

1)  Kelly helped me get out of the house.

If I tell you that Kelly "helped me find the right stroller for me," it might not seem like a big deal to you.  But when you've got post-partum depression and a colicky baby and you feel guilty about giving him formula but he can't latch so you pump your breasts eight times a day and you have already bought and returned six--count 'em--SIX other annoying-assed strollers, and quite frankly you are really not getting out much at all because EVERYTHING IS JUST SO HARD…finding a good stroller is a very big deal.

It makes getting out a lil easier.

You need to get out, you know.

Regain some normalcy.

Kelly understood everything I was going through.  She named challenges that I was struggling with but couldn't put words to.  She knew every feature of every stroller on the market, the ins-and-outs, the goods-and-bads of each one, and she was forthcoming about all of it.

When she demonstrated the one-handed fold of a Baby Jogger stroller for me, I just about fell to my tired knees with happiness.  I think I actually did cry.

The Bellani team knows their stuff.

2)  She helped me feed my child who would not eat.

Eventually (three months later), I waived the white flag over my breast pump and cut that masochistic sh*t out.  But I didn't do so without tremendous Mommy Guilt, so I had to come up with a way to make up for the fact that I was denying my child precious breast milk and also a bonding experience and thereby f*cking with his entire LIFE because I SIMLY DID NOT WANT TO PUMP.

Or at least that was one of the sweet nothings I whispered to myself.

Shortly after sobbing to my husband that our child would inevitably go to California for college because of the lack of a breast-feeding maternal bond, I devised a plan to compensate.

I would make all of his baby food.  I would lay the smack down on the Gerber baby food industry and feed our child only homemade organic baby purees made with love from scratch.

But apparently it would be (and still is) very hard to feed this child--not just breast milk--but ANYTHING.  Probably because of the psychological scars I inflicted while trying to get him to latch.

Also.  I didn't know anything about infant nutrition, and I didn't know anything about making purees.

Kelly did.

I took two of her baby-food-making classes, both of which were chucked to the gills with information that only a ton of reading and YEARS of experience could get ya.  She also knows all the fun tricks for storage and travel and other such good things.

One of my favorite tips from her at that time was to crush up cheerios into dust and shake em around in a plastic bag with banana pieces.  That makes it easier for the little ones to pick up the bananas.

Kelly helped me to feed my child who would eat almost nothing, and more importantly, she helped to calm my nerves and remove the guilt about the whole feeding thing.  MAJOR WIN.

[Noteworthy fact #467:  Our second child LOVES Gerber.]

3)  She empowered me to hold my second baby immediately after giving birth via c-section.

This one.  This one, I will be grateful for until the day I die.

When I was pregnant with our second child, I was in Bellani because my son was enrolled in their *awesome* toddler art classes.  During my visit, I rubbed my belly and bemoaned to Kelly that I was sad I'd have to have another c-section.

My first c-section was a surprise, and the doctor later told us it would be risky and unwise for me to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), which was extremely disappointing news.

"Have you ever heard of a Gentle Cesaerean?" Kelly asked.  I hadn't, and neither had my OBGYN.  But Kelly put me in touch with Amanda at ICAN RI (Amanda, BTW, also works at Bellani), and Amanda helped me lay the groundwork so I could have a Gentle Cesaerean.

It was the first Gentle C-Section in the history of Women and Infants hospital, thankyouverymuch.

(The best part of a Gentle C is that they allow you to hold your baby on your chest immediately after s/he is born, instead of making you wait until you get to the recovery room, which is what happened when our son was born.  Instead of feeling like you're in the hospital to have surgery, it feels like you're in the hospital to have a baby.  That's good.)

Mark this as one of the very best moments of my life, and one I will remember for ever, evah, evah to infinity and beyond.

Gentle C-section.jpg
Gentle C-section.jpg

[Above:  To answer your question, yes.  My forehead does have an end to it.]

Bellani Maternity has had a huge impact on my experience as a mother, and has connected me with a community of other wonderful moms:  both when I was a stay-at-home mom, and now as I run my photography business.

Have you seen my photography display in their shop?

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[Above:  Me, this summer.  Listen.  I said I can help YOU to not be awkward in front of the camera.  I did not say that I am not awkward in front of the camera.]

Getting to My Point:

Every time I visit Kelly, she is helping another mom with something totally unexpected.  Last week, I overheard her helping a mom whose three-year-old daughter is insistent upon knowing how babies are made.  On my previous visit there, she helped a pregnant mom relieve her back problems.  (The mom didn't know she was wearing the wrong kind of maternity bra.)

I cannot express how much Kelly and the team at Bellani Maternity have impacted me, and that's why, when they approached me about collaborating on a January promotion, I was eager and excited to jump onboard.

(This promotion also coincides with the same month I am teaching a Photography 101 class at Bellani!  There are only two spots left in the class so please register soon if you're interested!)

You can read the details of the January promotion here.  Basically, when you spend $100 at Bellani this month, you are entered to win a photography package with me (worth over $1K!)

This promotion is my way of showing gratitude to the whole Bellani community for the many ways they have positively touched my life, and it's Kelly's way of showing gratitude to all of her supportive clients, and of adding even more value to her own client experience.

As if she needs to.

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Has Kelly or someone else in the Bellani community touched your life in a positive way?  Tell us about it in the comments!  :) 

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I'm Teaching a Photography 101 Class in Warwick, RI. Come!

Facebook Ad for Photog Class.jpg
Facebook Ad for Photog Class.jpg

Great news for fellow photography-lovers!

WHAT:  Photography 101 Class with Bethany

WHEN:  Saturday, January 25th, 2014  2-4:30pm

WHERE:  Best Parenting Shop Ever  (Bellani Maternity, 1276 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI)

WHY:  Because you have a nice camera and you're not using it to it's potential.  Or you love photography but feel intimidated by it.  Or generally you are just awesome and enjoy hanging out with other awesome people in awesome places.

HOW MUCH:  $99

HOW TO SIGN UP:  Call 401-345-4177 or email bethany@bethanyo.com.  Or call or sign up at Bellani.  You have many options.

I plan to JAM PACK as much good info and light-heartedness as I can possibly pack into these two-and-a-half hours!  Don't miss it!

FAQ's

Can I give this as a gift to someone?

Absa-freakin-lutely.  You can and you SHOULD give this as a gift to someone.  We'll even give ya a gift card to give 'em.  How 'bout that?

Aperture, shutter speed, and the rest of those shenanigans are SO CONFUSING.  Do you like to make things confusing?

I'm so glad you asked, Hypothetical Question-Asker.  No, I do not like to make things confusing.  I like to make things fun.  I took a similar photography class at the ripe young age of 15, and the teacher made things so confusing that I didn't attempt to learn photography again until almost another 15 years had passed.  I won't do that to you.

Do I need to have a fancy camera to take this class?

No, the concepts we'll be covering will apply to all photography captured by all cameras, including iPhones.  If you do not have a camera, though, the class is going to leave you WANTING a camera, because of the extended control the DSLRs [i.e. "fancy cameras"] give you over your camera settings.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Do I need to bring my camera with me for class?

It's encouraged that you bring your camera so that you can familiarize yourself with the controls and settings we'll discuss, but this is not a workshop, so a camera is not necessary.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Honestly, has no one gotten to the bottom of this yet?  Woodchucks DO chuck wood, don't they?  Is this a test?

Which lens do you recommend for a beginner learning photography?

If you're a Nikon shooter, get this one.  That lens is not only an incredible value, it also lays the smack down on all other lenses as far as learning lenses go;  I'll tell you why in class.  For Canon shooters, I recommend this lens, which is almost as good.  :)  You do not need to have either of these lenses for the class.

I don't receive any kick-back if you purchase those lenses, in case you were wondering.

This class is being held at Rhode Island's best pregnancy and parenting shop.  What if I'm not a parent, or I am not interested in photographing kids?

Do not fret yourself, sweet grasshopper!  All are welcome, and this particular class is not specifically about photographing kids.  The concepts we will discuss apply to all types of photography, which may or may not include children, depending upon your preferences.

Will you cover XYZ topic in class?

This class is going to be a discussion of basic photography concepts:  shutter speed, aperture, ISO, how they interact, tricks for how to deal with difficult shooting situations, concepts that can improve any photo, etc.  If you are wondering about specific subjects that will or will not be covered, feel free to email Bethany.

What about refunds?

Since seating is limited, we are unable to offer refunds or exchanges for tickets purchased for this event.  HOWEVAH.  You are welcome to sell or give away your admission in the unlikely and frankly insane event that you change your mind about attending.  Kinda like a concert ticket, you know?  Only better.

Should I sign up sooner...or later?

SOONER, for shizzle!!  Spots are limited.  I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said, "You snooze, you lose."  Or something like that.

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The Truth.

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bethanyo.com_0017.jpg

I've come to realize I have a physical response to truth.

When something strikes me as fundamentally pure, truthful, soulful, brave, or kind, I get chills.  Teary-eyes.  My heart skips a beat.

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bethanyo.com_0019.jpg

My son, in one exaggerated swoop of his arm, wipes a pile of papers onto the floor.  When I exasperatedly ask, "WHY???!" he blinks at me, genuinely confused.

"I don't know why," he says, and I believe him.

The pureness of his honesty makes my heart stumble.

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bethanyo.com_0018.jpg

Waiting in the grocery line, I overhear a man boasting about his granddaughters.  His love is pure and palpable; the tears in my eyes are, too.

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bethanyo.com_0016.jpg

A confidante shares a "secret" that has been poisoning her insides for forty years.  I get chills - not because her secret is remotely juicy (group therapy has taught me that secrets are mostly only juicy to their keepers) - my arm hairs stand to attention because of the pureness of her courage.

Perhaps these sensations are not just reactions to truth - perhaps they are my body's way of telling me when I have seen a glimpse of a person's soul.

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bethanyo.com_0023.jpg

I have seen their soul and I am touched.

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bethanyo.com_0025.jpg

I've heard it said that people today have keen noses for B.S. (we can smell a rat from a mile away)--but I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for how perceptive we are in recognizing GOODNESS, too.

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bethanyo.com_0026.jpg

Our bodies have a sense for when things are pure and true.  They are reliable and consistent sources of guidance; it's just up to us to pay attention.

I know I haven't been paying enough attention.

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bethanyo.com_0027.jpg

Of course I've known that my eyes water a lot, but I've never stopped to think, why am I getting chills in this moment?  Why did I just skip a breath?

What is my body trying to tell me?

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bethanyo.com_0030.jpg

When somebody does something courageous or selfless or honest or good and we get chills, that's the universe's way of saying, "Did you see that?  That was good.  See how it gives you goosebumps?  You are connected to that.  You are good too.  Go that way.  Do more things like that.  You are not alone."

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bethanyo.com_0029.jpg

This is why, when a twice-bereaved father runs towards the explosions in Boston to pinch between his fingers the severed arteries of a man whose legs have been blown off, our entire nation vibrates at a higher level.

We are one with that cowboy-hat-wearing Patriot.  His fiber is our fiber.  We are capable of that valor.

We get chills when we see him because God/Universe/Spirit is telling us:  "Go that way.  Be like that."

We are also one with the man in the wheelchair who is shocked and afraid.  If we can see ourselves in him, then we, like him, have no choice but to be valiant in the face of our fears.

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bethanyo.com_0032.jpg

Isn't it remarkable how much soul can come through a photograph?

When an image captures the essence of a person, I inhale sharply.  My eyes water.  I get chills.  Not because it is beautiful - many photos are beautiful - but because it is true.  

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bethanyo.com_0028.jpg

As a photographer, I have no interest in taking a photo of what a person or a scene "looks like."  Taking that kind of picture requires zero talent.  It is boring and unremarkable.

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bethanyo.com_0033.jpg

I have even less interest in photographing who a person wants to pretend to be.  I spent far too many years thinking I had to be someone I wasn't in order to be lovable; if you want a contrived or "perfect" or super-posed photo, please find somebody else to take it.  

Pretense makes me shiver.

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bethanyo.com_0020.jpg

When I push the shutter on my camera, my goal is to create a photograph--not of what my subject looks like, but of who my subject is.  It's no easy task, because people generally feel uncomfortable with a lens in their face, but--quite frankly--bringing out who YOU ARE in a photo is my enjoyable challenge and my specialty.

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bethanyo.com_0024.jpg

I catch your light and I show it to you.

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bethanyo.com_0021.jpg

I aim to show you that your truth--your soul--your ESSENCE is extraordinarily, vibrantly, and wildly beautiful.

Because that, my friend, is the God's Honest Truth.

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bethanyo.com_0022.jpg

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I'm currently running a photography special:  $470 worth of photos and services for only $165.  Details here!

FYI, I changed the name of my photography business.  I now operate as Bethany O Photography.

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