Mommy & Me Sessions | YoungLives 2015

During a session, I always show a few of the images from the back of my camera to my client. And almost every time they smile. It’s almost as if they are seeing themselves in a different way. Some have even said, “wow, I didn’t think I could look that good”. This type of reaction makes my heart sing and at the very core is the reason why I love photography so very much. If I can help others see just how beautiful they truly are…well, then all is right with my photographer heart!

I think it’s probably safe to say that many of the teen moms that I have met through YoungLives have forgotten just how truly beautiful they are. A typical teen may be stressed about an upcoming test or worried about college applications, but teen moms are worried about how they are going to afford diapers and formula and if they have childcare in order to get to work or school the next day. They are often living in very stressful housing situations and may have little or no family support. I am guessing that life probably doesn’t feel all that beautiful anymore. They face struggles that so many of us can’t even imagine. I was asked to photograph the Mommy & Me portraits at all three of the YoungLives Clubs in our area and I am so glad that I was able to say YES! Taking these images was such an eye opening experience for me. My heart was softened and my perspective on beauty has grown. Even amongst so much hardship, these young moms and dads are incredibly beautiful and the way they fiercely love their babies is so inspiring. I don’t know if I have ever photographed a more thankful and appreciative group of people. These sessions touched 42 teen moms, 9 teen dads, 10 pregnant teens, and 47 babies and toddlers - each one of them is fighting for the best life possible and choosing to pursue friendships, mentors, and a relationship with God through the YoungLives community. I am grateful to be a tiny part of their journey.

It wasn't possible to blog all of the images (almost 300 in total), but I wanted to share a few of the highlights. These sessions took place over the course of three different nights and in three different locations.

Learn more about YoungLives here. Get involved with one of the local clubs here. The local clubs are always looking for volunteers.

Mommy & Me Sessions | YoungLives 2014

For the past two years I have had the opportunity to volunteer for YoungLives. YoungLives is a division of Young Life that supports teen moms (and dads too!). A "club" event takes place each month where local teen moms are invited to share a meal, watch a skit, create something, and learn more about Jesus. They also receive packs of diapers, wipes, and baby clothing. Volunteers provide childcare for club nights as well. The girls that I have met through this program are stronger then you can ever imagine; some of them are pregnant as young as 13 and without a safe place to live. Many of them are trying to finish school and provide as best as they can for their child. It’s safe to say that most of them are on their own with very little financial resources and emotional support. YoungLives is a safe place for them to be themselves and to hopefully receive a break from the day-to-day struggles they face. I can feel the love in the room on club nights…hugs shared between friends, encouraging conversation, laughter, and kids playing with each other. Our club is growing with sometimes as many as 12 girls + babies coming. I feel blessed to be able to photograph club events and special events like this Mommy & Me session in April. The girls received prints of these images at our Mother’s Day club last night. I see strength, perseverance, and beauty in these images…the sweetest little children loving and smiling up at their mamas. 

Learn more about the Mead YoungLives Club here. We meet at Branches Church the first Wednesday of the month from 6-8pm. Contact Linda McDonald at for more information.