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Tampa Westchase Family Photographer | West park Village Family Portrait Session

One of the things I love most about being a family portrait photographer is working with such beautiful families. I really enjoy seeing and capturing the relationships in each family, and always feel so blessed that I am able to do what I love and am passionate about. This family is so beautiful, both inside and out. Thank you for having me photograph your family portrait. Here are a few sneak peaks to see before we meet to review all of your images!

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Extraordinary Women Launch! | Tampa Westchase Photographer

Extraordinary Women by Jen Bravo Photography

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” Melinda Gates, philanthropist, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

As I have been struggling to find my own voice over the years, I have always looked around me for inspiration in the women I see daily. Whether they are working, staying home, battling illness, or simply raising awareness for causes they believe in, I am always inspired by the women who are out in the world, making a difference. Some of the greatest women I have known have little awareness of the positive impact they have on those around them. They possess the leadership to inspire, the courage to fight and the power make a difference.

Welcome to the first nominee, Krisitin O’Donnell. I truly enjoyed photographing her and getting to know her better! Kristin was awesome enough to answer a few questions, and I love her honest and inspiring answers. Reading about the blessings and challenges she has faced really puts life into perspective!

1. Which person has had the biggest influence in your life so far?

I am going to have to choose two on this one… my mom and my dad. Both have had a major influence in most of the decisions in my life. My dad taught me to be loyal, honest, and to never give up. My mom taught me to be loving, spiritual, and positive. Between the both of them they helped me be the person I am today…although I still consider myself a work in progress!

2. When life gets tough, what are the things you do that keep yourself going?

We all have bad days, weeks, months. During these difficult and challenging times, some of us may find ourselves feeling alone. Some may feel overwhelmed and just want to throw in the towel! Some may feel like they can’t take another minute of what is going on in their lives! Sometimes we ask, “Will it ever get better?” Sometimes we may compare ourselves to others and think, “Wow, look at what she can do! Her life is in order! Geez, I really stink at this!!” Well, been there, done that! I still have my moments, don’t get me wrong. There are some challenges in my life that have helped shaped me into the person I am and am still working on becoming. (My husband and I have four children… and are very blessed above and beyond. It was when we had our second child, Katie, that our world changed. At a few weeks old she was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that involves daily seizures, developmental delays, and many other health issues. At the time of her birth in 2004, the doctors didn’t even know if she would make it. We spent years in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals, physical and occupational therapy, you name it! Every morning I woke up, I would wonder if she would still be with us… not a very fun way to live your life! The first few years of her life were very, very difficult and challenging, but slowly, over time, we started to accept the situation and find peace. I realized that no matter what happens in life, the sun will rise the next day and life goes on! I was always a positive person, but still struggled inside with all of the pressures of trying to be a good mom, a good wife, and take care of Katie’s medical needs…sometimes second guessing my decisions. However, over time my husband and I have realized that she was put into our lives for a reason.. to make us realize what is important in life. ) It’s not about all the ‘stuff’ around us. It’s about family, love, and happiness. It’s about finding peace WITHIN and just moving on… living life every day to its absolute fullest. Easier said than done, I know. A few years ago, I started concentrating on four things in my life that I wanted to try and improve on to help make me a better person. Here they are…

Spiritually- praying, finding a quote to help me through the day, etc.

Physically- Doing something physical definitely helps relieve stress! Running, walking, yoga… and of course trying to eat right … without feeling that you can’t have that nice juicy burger every once in a while! 

Mentally- doing a crypotogram, reading… anything that can stimulate my mind!

Emotionally- getting in touch with what’s going on with how I am feeling about a situation… why am I feeling like that? Then reminding myself not everything is going to go the way I want it to and that’s OK!

This sounds really good on paper, but honestly it’s HARD. I mess up all of the time and make mistakes just like everyone else. It’s then that I have to put myself in check, stop putting so much pressure on myself and remember what life TRULY is all about. It’s ok to be selfish and take time for YOU!
Also, having a good support system like my husband, family and my wonderful friends helps too! Talking to someone else is sometimes all it takes to get you back to your happy place. 

3. What are the three most important qualities in your life to have for happiness?

Love- gotta have it. Love is patient, Love is kind…Love is all of those things that Corinthians says it is. If you’ve never had a chance to read it, take a minute and do. It’s very powerful! And, more importantly, loving yourself FIRST… every bit of yourself from head to toe. Set aside the insecurities … don’t compare… love who you are, who you have become. In order to love others unconditionally you’ve got to love who you are.
Ok, I want to give a shout out… I wouldn’t be where I am today emotionally if it weren’t for the love and support my husband and I have for one another. This journey has definitely been a team effort!

Forgiveness- Start with forgiving YOURSELF. You are HUMAN and not perfect, therefore you will make mistakes in your life. Learn from them. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Stop putting pressure on yourself to do so. Also, forgive others. It doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend again. But forgiveness will help get rid of any resentment you may feel, and all the other yucky stuff you may be feeling inside. It will help you find peace within!

Acceptance- Again, start with accepting WHO YOU ARE. Accepting you for you doesn’t mean you are ignoring challenges. It just means you will accept them as they come and do the best you can to make it through. Also, accept others. God made us all different for a reason so we could learn from one another. I believe every one who comes in your life, even for a brief moment, has something you can take from them.

4. What is your secret indulgence?
Kettle cooked jalapeno chips! Gotta have them nightly! 

5. Fill in the blank, “I could not live without my …”

6. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Best ever from my mom:
“This too shall pass.”
It’s true. Think of how many times something was so important at that exact moment and it may have torn you up emotionally, physically, mentally , spiritually… and what happened? Usually, it never happens at all… or… at some point it does go away. Just be patient and keep the faith.

7. What in your life has brought or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment?
Our four beautiful children! Through all the craziness and chaos, they are who my husband and I want to spend time with the most!  They keep it real, make us laugh and definitely keep us on our toes!

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