Category Archives: movies/slideshows

welcome, baby liza . a homebirth story

I’ve attended more births than I can count, both as a doula in my past life and as a photographer in this one. I’ve seen dozens of natural births and been a part of the welcoming committee for more beautiful babies over the course of the past ten years than I can even remember. But I’ve never had an experience quite like the one I had with Laura and Blake and their midwives as they brought their daughter into the world at home.

Homebirth is magic. I fell in love with the idea when I read the book “baby catcher” and I fell in love with the reality about a decade later as I witnessed Laura work in the peace and safety of her own home to bring her daughter into the world. I wish I could nail down exactly what it was that gave it all a deeper reverence and more potent beauty than the many hospital births I’ve attended.

Maybe it was the quietness of their home or the patient and grace-filled way Laura “does” labor. Maybe it was the daylight pouring through the windows and Debussy spinning on the record player that afternoon. Maybe it was the way blake sat quietly at her side, championing her in stillness. Maybe it was the confident, hands-off approach the midwives took, and the patience reflected in their gaze. Maybe it was the biscuits and gravy their good friend cooked up from scratch after the baby was born, so we could all share a hearty meal together and celebrate like a family. Whatever it was, I will be flipping this experience over in my head and my heart for years to come like a fluffy, inspirational pancake.

I made this film for them and they have given me permission to share it. It’s wildly, intensely personal and raw, so they are doing a great kindness to me in letting me share it with you here. I hope that you can feel an ounce of the peace, the light, the magic I felt in being there. And then the images. These are just a little peek into what I saw and the moments that stopped me in my tracks that day and night.

Laura and Blake, you two showed me an experience of being human that I had never experienced. It’s as though you pulled back the curtain and revealed a holy and magical world that I only dreamt could exist. Thank you for your openness, your trust in me, and your spirit-filled lives. It was a joy to watch baby Liza come into the world.

with love,



the film:


the photographs:

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this is one of my very favorites: welcome, Isaiah.

This is one of my favorites.
and I don’t just say that for drama’s sake.
I say it because it is true.

I am a firm believer that things happen at exactly the time they are supposed to.
and the timing of our relationship with the Luecks has always been divine.

We met Jessi and Dave when they were newly engaged.
All four of us knew we were meant to share some life together.
but we had no idea how much.
I had no idea that we would photograph
their engagement
their wedding day
their first anniversary
the birth of their daughter hazel
and the birth of their first son, Isaiah.

and that we would share
birthday parties
summer gardening tips
road trips
Thanksgiving dinners
Christmas mornings
and evenings crying on the couch about life.

I love this family so very much. They are a part of the fiber of who we are, and so this is one of my favorites. And not just because Dave was smiling like a goof the whole time (his M.O. during Jessi’s labors), and not just because Jessi is one of my dearest kindreds, and not just because I love the process of birth. But because the timing is perfect.

As I said before, I am a firm believer that things happen at exactly the time they are supposed to. And for whatever the many reasons were, I didn’t have time to finish this story until this week. Little did I know, this week would also turn out to be the week the Lueck family lost another one of their good men – Dave’s last living grandfather. They lost a good man as I was creating a commemoration of their family gaining a son.

So to my dear friends, I hope this is a touch of hope and joy and healing as you experience loss. I hope you, like me, can celebrate God’s mysterious timing and ponder the questions, the meaning of it all.

this is one of my favorites because you are.
enjoy, with love.


baby isaiah was born from WE ARE THE PARSONS on Vimeo.

Julia - 05/02/2014 - 1:39 pm

I can’t even watch your posts anymore! I am SUCH a mess watching every one!! :) :) What an incredible reminder of the beauty of life and the joy, pain and sheer exhilaration it is to bring a child into the world. I felt every frame. Adore you two and congrats to Dave and his gorgeous family.

sharon - 04/29/2014 - 11:12 pm

I really don’t have any words, thank you for making this, it’s incredible

Ty - 04/25/2014 - 2:43 pm

I cried through all of this. It’s such a raw and beautiful documentation of life…the pain, laughter, intimacy, tears, all of it. So so good. Y’all are my new favorite photographers for sure.

Elizabeth Koehler - 04/24/2014 - 10:37 am

so. many. tears. beautiful family, beautiful tribute.

dev - 04/22/2014 - 10:16 am

I’ve been waiting all week to watch this when I had enough time to sit down with my computer, full screen, sound up. So much beauty and love. Jessi, I’m so happy for you and your family! Ash, very well done, once again :) love you both!

Samantha - 04/18/2014 - 10:56 pm

I’m in tears. This is so beautiful! well done!

hannah nicole - 04/18/2014 - 10:39 pm

there is a piece of a poem by wendell berry that I love, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” You see the sacredness in these places. thin places. holy spaces.

Jamie Young - 04/18/2014 - 9:56 pm

I’ve never met Jessi and Dave, but I sure feel like I know them through all of the beautiful images you’ve shared of them over the years. Wishing them the best with their handsome son.

Another beautiful job, Ashley! You’re amazing!

brad - 04/18/2014 - 5:01 pm

beautiful ash. perfect tracks too.

Jeremy Brown - 04/18/2014 - 4:32 pm

Wonderful. That did my heart good. Congratulations Jessi and David and Hazel!

Tanya Colclough - 04/18/2014 - 4:13 pm

Beautiful Ashley from start to finish. What a precious precious gift.