Hi, I’m Brianna Doby and welcome to my blog. Please take a spin around the blog to find samples of my work, tips on how to make your photography session a success, and some general musings about my craft.

Entries in mothers (4)


New kind of family portrait

There have been a few seminal moments in my life:

Moving to Denver, Colorado in 2001

Marrying my best friend in 2001, who is now my kind and loving co-parent and best friend (but no longer my husband)

The birth of my daughter

The birth of my son

The death of my mother

That last one has been a real game-changer.  As I like to tell my children, everyone has their "unfair"--it's unfair that some children have to grow up in an unsafe place, it's unfair that some people become sick, and others die well before their time, it's unfair that some people lose their jobs, etc.  Everyone has their "unfair" because no one's life is perfect. 

My "unfair" was the early death of my mother.

It's hard to express what happens when, as a young adult, something happens that shifts every single point of reference you (previously thought) you knew.

Holding my mother's hand while she died quickly, yet somehow so slowly, after an accidental brain trauma due to a seizure...something in me broke, or shifted, or shattered, or pulled.  I don't know how to describe it, but there was a fundamental movement in my life that has altered every moment going forward.

I didn't write a big Mother's Day post last week, not because I begrudge the celebration at all, but because it's still a day I would rather spend with my covers over my head and plenty of tissues for all the sobbing that, inevitably, will occur.

I don't quite know how to describe what it feels like to live without my mother without falling into cliches.  But I will say that the way she called me in the mornings to make sure I knew the weather forecast--"Hey, darlin', it's going to be chilly today! Wear a scarf!" and the way she smelled like clean clothes dried in the sun with a touch of Youth Dew and the way she listened without already deciding she understood and the way she hugged her grandchildren with her WHOLE BODY, a WHOLE HUG that said how devoted, how in love she was with these little ones...

God help me, I ache as I miss her.

It's hard for a photographer, someone whose everyday work is to CATCH something, to literally and metaphorically CAPTURE a moment and SAVE it--it's hard for me as a photographer to be 100% unable to express in an image what connection I had, and still have, with my mother.

Maybe that's why I am so incredibly interested, even driven, to do that for my clients.  "Hang onto this beautiful moment together! SAVE IT!" I'm saying as I take their portraits, take their little moments and keep them safe for a future day when it is missed, when it is needed, when someone is aching because someone else isn't there.

Save it, catch it, capture it, keep it.  Not because you want it to leave, but because it inevitably will.

Here's my new family portrait.  It's not like the ones I take for you, my clients.  It's the only one I can take, because where she is, I can't be.  This will have to do for now. 

Save it, catch it, capture it, keep it.  Because my mother left, but who she was to all of us--that remains.


30 minutes, 200 photographs, no fuzzy wand

I hear a lot of horror stories as a photographer.  I used to be shocked; now, I almost expect everyone to share a terrible story about THE WORST PHOTOSHOOT EVER as we work together.  I'll share an example with you now.

This is little I, an adorable baby I met this weekend. 

 Such a sweet girl.  I's mama told me about another photoshoot they had attempted at a local photography chain.  She explained: "Little I looked so uncomfortable!  They kept making her cry, kept waving a fuzzy wand in her face--I kept thinking, oh no!  She hates that wand AND what about all of the germs!"  Between the wand and the discomfort, it was traumatizing.  They didn't order a single picture, and felt terribly that little I was so upset.

In stark contrast, I did not have a wand.

I didn't shout, or makes weird faces, or startle her to get her attention.  For many of the shots, she rested in her mama's arms.

What's my secret to 30 relatively easy and happy minutes with a baby--all the while with a big camera around her? 

My secret is simple.  Here's the thing about photographing infants: they are little people.


That means they cannot and should not be expected to just sit still and make only the happiest of smiley faces.  They have expressions.  They have moods.  They might

be calm, they might be happy, they might be intrigued, they might be frustrated...and those feelings can and should be reflected on their sweet faces.  I treat babies as little people.  I wouldn't want a fuzzy, germy wand rubbed in my face to get my attention or force a smile.  No one else--babies included--would want one either.  Ergo, no wand.

So, sometimes little I looked interested, sometimes peaceful, sometimes excited.  She always looked like herself, a beautiful little girl with a loving family.





Remembrance of Things Past

One of my favorite images to capture is a mother holding her child.  That's an easy pick--who doesn't love a snuggly mama/baby photo?--but it's more than that for me.

I lost my mother a few years ago.  She was a mother, but that was not the only thing that defined her; she was a mentor, a guide, a friend, a sassy smartypants, a bright and shining light, a philosopher, a challenge, a woman of faith.  I look at the mothers I photograph and see a reflection of what I shared with own my mama for 27 years.

I see warmth and loyalty and unconditional love in all of these beautiful women, and it's a swirly-kind-of-Proust-ish moment to realize that my mother held me in the same way so many years ago.  I drop out of the immediate present and feel like I did in the past.  It's not the 31-year-old Brianna that clicks the shutter in that split second, it's 10-year-old Brianna who loves the love shared by mother and child, and is so excited to capture that moment for someone else.

(Thank goodness 10-year-old Brianna is a decent photographer--otherwise we'd be in trouble :)