Tag Archives: portrait

Maternity Henna for Our Second Born

Maternity photo with older sister

Four years ago today, I published a post about my wife getting a henna design on her pregnant belly. She was seven-and-a-half months along, and we didn’t know the gender of the child. The baby was a mystery, a hidden identity that we couldn’t formulate until his/her birth. So the design that our artist, the talented Amy Haderer-Swagman, created on that day embodied some of that mystery. It centered on a gallant, masculine peacock within an expanding, feminine sunflower. On March 7, our little girl was born, and everything about our life has been better since.

In two weeks or so, we’re going to welcome our second born — another little mystery, an anonymous kicker and roller who keeps Hailey up at night, but delights her with little motions. Varenna will be a big sister, and life will get doubly good. To celebrate, Hailey had another henna design commissioned for her pregnant belly, and this time, Amy created an unfathomable masterpiece.

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Headwaters Content

Kevin Day (Principle/Content Strategist; Headwaters Content) and Hailey Day (President/Digital Artist; HeyDay Creative)

You should never start a blog post with an apology for not posting recently. It’s just bad form, and truthfully, who reads this blog regularly anyway? Even if you did, you’d notice that I haven’t posted anything — anything — since January.

But I feel the long absence is worth noting, if for no other reason than the major personal changes I’ve undergone since my last post.

I’ve started my own company.

Not a hobby company. Not a dabble-in-it-and-see-if-it-fits company.

A livelihood. A bona fide “wow, this is what I ought to be doing in life” company.

My business is called Headwaters Content, and its one of Denver’s first content strategy firms. What brought this about is a long and probably boring story (I think it’s interesting. You probably don’t). But needless to say, maintaining a photo blog has been a free-time activity, and since February, setting Headwaters up has been rather consuming, both from a labor-intensive and mentally fatiguing perspective.

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Fall Color at the Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells in fall color outside Aspen, Colorado(Click on images for a larger view)

I’ve struggled to photograph the Maroon Bells in the past. Struggled because of two things: (1) everybody has photographed them and an original angle is getting more and more rare, and (2) they perfectly face to the east and, as a result, are often 2 stops more bright than their surroundings, making an even exposure especially tricky.

A six-month-old girl plays near the Maroon Bells outside Aspen, Colorado

But then my wife took our daughter there for a day trip this past October (I was attending the Colorado Governor’s Conference on Tourism in nearby Snowmass) and she returned with a series of astonishingly original photos of the Bells. How did she overcome my two stumbling blocks?

Solution #1: visit the Maroon Bells with an adorable baby and let her eat the dirt on the shore of Maroon Lake — original photos abound — and …

Solution #2: visit in the fall when the sunlight is slanted and the exposure is more even.

The Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake in fall color outside Aspen, Colorado

Our daughter’s middle name is Autumn, and this being her first fall, well, it was especially meaningful to have the two of them join me in Snowmass for the conference. After the day’s sessions, I’d take Varenna off of Mom’s hands for a little bit, and go for a short jaunt through the aspens with her near the hotel. She’d squeal and kick with delight at being outside, at facing forward in the Baby Bjorn carrier, and at the sights and sounds and smells of the woods. She’s a Coloradan by birth, and already she is acting like one.

Enjoying the Maroon Bells in autumn, Aspen, Colorado

So when the conference ended and I had a little freedom to wander, we returned to Maroon Bells as a family and spent a few hours in the aspen glades and along the lake shore, watching a blizzard of leaves flutter over the lake as autumn had one last gasp before winter.

Close-up of the Maroon Bells outside Aspen, Colorado

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At Home With Varenna


And so an amazing first two weeks at home with our little girl has come to a close. Back to work tomorrow, but the journey, the adventures, the milestones — they will only keep coming with greater regularity. I feel like I’m meeting a new Varenna everyday. A bigger, smarter, savvier little girl with each sunrise.


Two weeks ago, she was a swollen little newborn who could barely keep her eyes open. She’d claw at her cheeks and eyebrows, the sensory experience of her new life too much to handle. Tonight, while lying on my chest, she wiggled her way from my sternum to burrow her face under my armpit, as though she’d find a food source under there, the whole time making ravenous little grunts. I could hardly contain my laughter it was so cute.


Varenna looks a little like me, and she looks a little like Hailey. And yet at the same time, she looks, and acts, not at all like either of us. It’s so incredible to see the individualism of a newborn. She’s mellow, content, and yet capable of incredible assertiveness. Her eyes are blue one day, blue-gray the next, hazel the next, blue again the next. The fact that I can’t peg her personality, let alone her physical traits, down makes parenthood all the more surreal.


Since we’ve come home, we’ve had several visitors come over. Hailey’s parents have visited, and we’ve Skyped Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law in Virginia and grandmother in St. Louis. My mom and dad came by for dinner, and this Thursday, since we were feeling pretty house-bound, we took Varenna to their house in the foothills southwest of town. Four or five sets of friends have stopped by to meet her, and my brother and his family have come by, with his wife Amy spending last night at our place (what a trooper … she even helped with night duty). I thought that our wedding was the once-in-a-lifetime event where gratitude for these friends and family would be the most intense. To have that experience twice is truly a blessing.


Varenna’s room has turned into a neat little sanctuary, complete with woodsy creatures, stuffed animals and a soundtrack of birdsong that we like to play on a compact sound system. Whether Varenna the Newborn eventually becomes Varenna the Outdoorsy Girl is entirely up to her, but for now, she’s got a lot of cuddly creatures surrounding her.

I’ve set up a blog just for Varenna photos. I did it mainly for family and friends to keep tabs on her (and to keep the Tanager Blog focused on travel, portraiture and other photography). My favorite post so far has to do with the many faces of this girl.


So there you go: our little family. Hope you are all enjoying spring …

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Momma Gets Henna


So far, this pregnancy (and therefore the blog) has been devoid of belly pictures. Well, not any longer.


On Sunday, Hailey had a henna artist — Amy Swagman, who has her own henna design business — come over and paint a beautiful henna tattoo design on her baby bump. There was no deeper reason for doing it. Just a “hey, that would be fun for the baby shower” kind of impulse. And since I haven’t gotten around to doing maternity pictures … well, here they are: our documented evidence of what pregnancy with Baby Xerxes was like with six weeks to go.

Amy began with a peacock design over the belly button, and the design emanated from there.

Our babe is a real roller. Loves to kick, tumble and do gymnastics all day. Made for an interesting spectacle as Amy tried to apply the design. Crazy kid.

As the design transpired, I bounced between taking pictures and watching the J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! defeat the Chargers. That was awesome.

And here is the final design. The ink dried, and then came off in the morning with the wrap that went over it. Now Hailey has this beautiful tattoo for the next two weeks, at which point it will fade away.

But by then, the Olympics will have started, and then once the Olympics are over, the bags will be packed for the hospital and we’ll be on guard to the finish line. Not sure how many blog posts I’ll get up there before then….

If you are interested in any kind of henna design, look Amy up. Here is her website: http://www.hennadenver.com.

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Portraits For Our Baby’s Room

Aunty Amy … married to my brother Ben and mother of Andrew, Isaiah and Jeremiah

(Click on each image for a larger view)

A few months back, I mentioned on the blog that we were working on a series of photos for our baby’s nursery. We just entered the third trimester, and we now have a crib (minus the mattress). Above the crib is a wide wall that can accommodate 10 frames at 8’x10′.

So here’s the concept: We want our child to know that they always have their family close by. So, beginning in August with Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law, we’ve been photographing them on a white backdrop. Rather than do just a headshot, we thought it would be fun if each image captured the playful, inner child of our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our nephews. On Thanksgiving Day, we completed the shoot. This post is devoted to the ones we’ve selected to frame.

Uncle Benji and Cousin Jer’

Cousin Andrew

Cousin Isaiah

Grandpa (Hailey’s father)

Nana (Hailey’s mother)

Funpa (my father)

Oma (my mother)

Uncle Jason (Hailey’s brother)

Aunty Ali (Jason’s wife, Hailey’s sister-in-law)

There are more images of Jason and Ali from a post I did in September.

What I’ve come to realize is that these images are a family heirloom, something to treasure more than any antique. At age 1 or 2, just as our son/daughter is beginning to figure these relationships out, these pics will be their guide. By the time they’ll be in high school and college, this will be a snapshot of who we were back then. Such an awesome family … we’re thankful for each person within it.

Can’t decide whether we should complete it with pictures of the two of us being playful or not. I don’t know … the kid’s going to be seeing plenty of us!

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The Hall Family

(click on images for a larger version)

On Saturday, Hailey and I did a family portrait shoot with the Halls — Bryce, Marni, Oliver and Harrison — at their Centennial home. Marni is my sister-in-law’s sister; she was the maid of honor at Ben and Amy’s wedding while I was the best man.  So we’ve known each other for roughly 15 years, and it’s such a treat to see her and her wonderful family these days, especially since Hailey and I are expecting in March, making their two-month-old son Harrison an automatic play buddy for our baby.


We did much of the shoot in their front room, which for me was conveniently empty and east facing, making it very studio-like with lots of natural light (yes!). Their two-year-old son Oliver took only a few minutes to warm up to us (after all, it had been a few months since we last hung out). He showed us some of his awesome toys in his play room, and then he had fun jumping off an ottoman onto a massive, pillowy, stuffed sheep chair. He’s also a natural in front of the camera. Look at that smile and pose!


Harrison was born just two months ago, and he’s at that super sweet age where his eyes search everything and he’s smiling a bit. The blanket in these images below was knitted by Harrison’s grandmother, Linda (Bryce’s mom).


After the shoot at their house, and a little lunch, we all went to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. This place is awesome. Locomotives and cabooses of all kinds, a Galloping Goose engine that makes circuits, and all sorts of memorabilia in the gift shop. I’m not a model-train collector by any stretch, but we’re definitely hitting this place up when our child is old enough to love it like Oliver does.


Thanks to Marni and Bryce for such an awesome shoot. Really fun, really engaging and easy-going. What more could a photographer ask for? We had a blast!

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Jason and Ali (and Some Big News)

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In late August, we hosted Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law, Jason and Ali, for a few nights. They live in Richmond, Virginia, and they visit roughly once a year now that Hailey’s parents live in Boulder. You know me and my pet portrait projects — while they were here, I asked them to pose for some photos in front of the white backdrop. Something playful and childish … like blowing bubbles. Why? Because we’re working on a series of white seamless portraits for the nursery.

That’s right: Hailey and I are having a baby. March 4 is the due date, and we’re determined to have the little one surrounded by our loved ones every night.

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Uncle Jason and Aunt Ali are naturally playful (heck, we even bought the bubbles at the grocery store on the way home from putt-putt golf).

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The bubble gun came with a blue hippopotamus-type creature who exclaims “bubbles make me silly!” when you squeeze its stomach. This provided a good ten minutes worth of laughs from Jason.

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Right now Hailey is beginning to show and the baby is making a few moves of its own. In 10 days, we find out if it is a boy or a girl. It gets more and more real with each passing day. I’ll do my best to make sure this doesn’t become a baby blog, but rest assured, this will be one of the most photographed kids in history.

We’ll be seeing Jason and Ali again for Christmas in Richmond, along with Hailey’s parents, her grandmother and her aunt and family. Should be an extra joyous occasion this year.

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Jacqie Kilzer + Ken Jones – August 12, 2009 (Part 2)

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(Click on each image for a larger view)

Jacqie and Ken were married on August 12 in Castle Rock. Here is part 2, with images from the ceremony and immediately after.

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At my wedding, my brother’s words to me before walking down the aisle were “on occasions like this, there’s no difference between the sacred and the profane.” Things don’t go perfectly, and that’s part of the fun. I love the spontaneity of shooting a wedding, and the pictures above capture one of those moments. During the ceremony, a bridesmaid’s hair clip got caught in the maid of honor’s veil. It brought a few chuckles in the front pew, and a round of smiles from Jacqie and Ken.

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I’ll have more portraits and images from the reception later this week.

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