Joe and Rachel Kempker | Maternity

A blissfully cool and quiet fall evening on their family farm was the perfect setting to document this most important milestone in Joe and Rachel’s lives. The rolling hills paired with the evening sun created a warm glow that illuminated the countryside where the pair often take walks before sunset. Rachel wore a lovely burgundy gown the flowed elegantly over her first ever baby bump.

Before they know it, Joe and Rachel’s lives will be forever changed, for the better, as baby boy Kempker will make them first time parents.

While this is a very special “first” in this sweet couple’s lives, they also made this session a “first” for me: my first maternity session. What a distinct honor it is to be considered a lifelong photographer. Just a little over a year ago I was photographing these two as they became husband and wife, and how special it is to be asked to follow them throughout their lives to document their story as it continues to unfold.

Though I met Joe and Rachel for the first time when they asked me to photograph their wedding, the pair have grown to be close friends with Blake and I. We often get together during the week for dinner and a card game or two, and at one of our most recent gatherings Rachel let me feel baby Kempker rolling around in her belly! I’ve never experienced anything quite like that, and it quickly makes you realize how precious and mesmerizing life is.

The Kempkers were down for anything during their session. We mostly laughed and joked around, but we ended the session with a beauty of a portrait vision that Rachel had. There is a very mature oak tree that magnificently stands on the bank of the creek below their house. Rachel said, “It reminds me of the tree of life.” I placed them underneath the tree and then walked through a nearby pasture (bravely, I might add…as their cows were staring at me like a crazy lady) to take the shot. I took 20 images, in fact, and stitched them together to create one of my very favorite panorama portraits ever! As I stare at that portrait of two wonderful and loving people who are about to welcome a new life into this world, as the sun is just about to set over the hillside yet offering a glow through the trees of that proud oak, I think of a line from “The Giving Tree”:

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” 

Joe and Rachel, thank you so much for trusting me with your portraits and giving me this honor. I cannot wait to meet Baby Kempker really soon!


Kelsi Kliethermes1 Comment