Last year, I had the chance to photography Grace (from Grace Paul Photography) and her precious children, and this was a beautiful full-circle moment for me. Grace and I first met when I reached out to her about a film mentorship. She’s an incredible film photographer, and I was so blessed to get to learn with her in her 1:1 mentorship. But I quickly learned that beyond that, Grace is an amazing mother, a true teacher with a heart of gold, and a woman who loves the Lord and lives out her faith tangibly everyday.
We became fast friends, and when she asked me to photograph her family, I couldn’t wait! We met at Smith Park in Brentwood, Tennessee, and I put what she’d taught me the year before into practice, shooting only film on my Pentax 645n. It was important to me to tell her story not only of her role as mother to all five of her boys, but also the individual stories she is living with each son. I think sometimes when we have more than one child, it’s easy to see them as a singular group. But the relationships we form with each of our children are unique, and I enjoyed capturing those stories, too.
Grace has a heart for sharing wisdom and truth, and I wanted to give her the opportunity to do that in today’s blog post! So enjoy this conversation with Grace Paul Photography. It’s a good one!
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a mother?
Shocked! I was 18 years old and had just married my high school sweetheart. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but I had NO clue that it would happen so fast.
What has your transition into motherhood been like? How has it changed over the years?
My transition into motherhood was anything but graceful. With a premature birth, a surprising disability diagnosis, and living 1000 miles away from my family, it felt more like a trial by fire. But oh, how the Lord has stretched my heart to contain fathoms of love and gratitude for this thing called motherhood. It turns out that fire was a refining fire. With each of my five children born and one in heaven, I have experienced a grace like no other and now am passionate about sharing the hope and joy that comes with a gospel-centered view of motherhood.
What is the best advice you’ve received as a mother?
That life is a vapor. And I’m to hold it all loosely. Seasons change, just like in nature, so the not-so-awesome parts of your life right now aren’t going to last. Celebrate whenever possible, big or small. And dedicate time every day to sit and marvel at your wonderful life.
What are three of your must-have items for motherhood? (for yourself or your kids)
A cordless Dyson vacuum, beautiful tea cups, and good books.
You have five young boys, you homeschool, and you run a successful photography business. How do you make the time for it all?
I wish I had a rinse and repeat formula for this. But the truth is that it is an ever-evolving process to find our stride. A few things come to mind though-
1. Being on the same page as my husband. We have weekly meetings where we talk about life, finances, goals, hopes, and dreams. Those regular, 15-minute meetings have changed the trajectory of our life. It allows us to spend our time focusing on things that actually matter in the long term.
2. Casting a vision for my life. So often I will get caught up in doing something without asking myself why I’m doing it. Taking the time to get clear on what I want my life to look like helps eliminate getting distracted by pursuing things that aren’t for me. I even wrote about it here.
3. Lastly- when you are secure in who God made you to be, you are free to pursue the desires of your heart. If I’m on shaky ground in my relationship with Him then I will doubt who He made me to be. So He has to come first. Above the kids, above my marriage, above it all. That’s where I find freedom and confidence to live a meaningful life.
What do you think moms need to know that they’re not hearing from the world right now?
You are the one who was put in place to parent your children. Not doctors, pastors, teachers, authors, google experts, that one person on social media, any of them. All of those people can be helpful, of course, but we have lost track of our identity. We walk around acting like everyone else knows more than we do when it comes to our kids, and that can’t be further from the truth. If we start seeking God on our kids’ behalf, He is going to show us what’s best for them in every area. Big or small. He knew you were capable of guiding and leading them to their full potential. And that’s what I want to start seeing more of. Mothers, confident in their calling.
What’s something about this season of life that you don’t want to forget?
I’m 98% positive we have had our last baby, and I don’t want to forget what it’s like having one in the house. Sure it’s crazy, and last week I found him eating the leftover dust off the bottom of the broom! But being able to have such a tiny, fresh little soul in the house is the best. How he smiles when I walk into the room. Or stops crying at my touch. There’s nothing like it.
What is a piece of practical advice you would give to a new mom or a mom about to add another little one to her family?
Spend every chance you can just being fully present with the people around you. And clear your calendar. If I could do it again (and I’ve done it 5 times) I would give myself permission to rest. I’d take a break from my older kids’ activities, cooking every night, working, going to playdates, and for the 4th trimester I would let other people help me and let my body heal.
What was your favorite part of working with Mallory Bell Photography?
Working with Mallory was a dream. I had a specific vision for this session, and when I thought of who would listen to me and beautifully capture our family dynamic, Mallory was the clear choice. She is gentle, patient, and thought of every detail. She made us laugh (even my husband!) and my kids still talk about going out with her. I can’t recommend her enough. Photos are a powerful representation of what the next generation remembers about you, and I trust her wholeheartedly with telling our story.
What are you working on right now that you’re excited to share?
SO many things! But here’s the two I’m most excited about.
I have felt led to share more about my life lately and hopefully encourage other mamas! Things like life as a special needs mom, homeschooling, running a business and creating a beautiful home. If you’re a mom and want to connect I’d love to talk either on IG (@mamagracepaul) or you can join my simple living community here!
And for photographers- I am launching The Film Collective, a community of creatives dedicated to mastering the art of film! It’s everything I teach in my 1:1 mentorships but formatted for easy, on-the-go learning. Join the photography education community here!
Mallory Bell Photography is a Huntsville, Alabama maternity, family, newborn, and photographer creating timeless imagery to document every stage of motherhood and family, from bump to baby and beyond. I capture your family honestly and candidly so you’ll always remember exactly how the little details felt. In the rush of life, it’s easy to overlook the ordinary moments. I aim to document the love between you and your little ones in a joyful, heartfelt way so your legacy will live on for generations to come.
Contact me to inquire about documenting your family’s story.
Film scanned by Photovision.