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Beautiful photos are something that I have always placed tremendous value on, and for years, I have imagined my future being in a home filled to the brim with framed pictures of my growing family. The day after Tyson was born, when he was first diagnosed with his heart disease, Justin and I began to grieve the life we had previously planned for, and this idea of perfect family photos with our newborn was one part of that.

About a week later, I got a message from the wonderful Tara, of Dixie Pixel Photography, and she told me she wanted to come to the hospital and take some pictures of our little family as part of a pay it forward project among photographers. It took a minute for me to process the idea... family photos in an ICU? It took only a minute though, and I immediately emailed her back to accept her generous offer. 

She took these photos on Sept. 1, 2011 and at the time we thought that Tyson was slowly getting better. We were happy and so hopeful for the future. Five days later, Tyson's heart stopped beating and he received CPR for thirty minutes before being put onto life support. Tara had posted our beautiful photos just that morning, and that night I went to sleep scrolling through them thinking that these could be the only photos we would ever have, and how grateful I was to have gotten them in time. Thankfully, these were just the beginning.

All Photos by Dixie Pixel Photography.
When we received the disc of the original images in September, Tara made sure to say she would be taking more the next spring when Tyson was home and fat and happy. At the time, neither of us knew if this would happen, but it was nice to think about so we made the plan. Eight months and a handful of miracles later, it happened!

​We got together at our parent's home in Alcoa, and the theme of the shoot was pretty much just doing our favorite things that we do at home. We spent so much time in the hospital, being unable to hold Tyson freely for so long, that the littlest things like cuddling on a bed, touching grass, being skin to skin, and watching him strum a guitar are all moments of overwhelming joy for us. We also wanted pictures of Tyson's scars, which we are so proud of and think are the most beautiful things in the world. It was the small, everyday things that we were hoping to capture in our second set of family photos, and once we got the images back from Tara, it was obvious we got that and more. Amazing!

It wasn't how we had planned, but we ended up getting our beautiful family photos that I had always dreamed of. They will be framed and line our walls and we will never forget the generosity behind them. Tara Kneiser, you are an angel, and we are so grateful for these beautiful images of our perfectly imperfect family. Thank you!

All Images by Dixie Pixel Photography.
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