Life in the In-Between

Last week marked nine (really, truly incredible) years of marriage for Matt Oholendt and myself.

Photo 2: Ryan Cummings, Photo 4: Gina Zeidler

I don’t say that “really, truly incredible” thing lightly. Our marriage hasn’t been without it’s struggles or it’s weeks of disconnectedness or months (at times, years) of life being just being plain hard to handle. By the grace of God, those real life periods haven’t defined our marriage or made it weaker but, almost certainly, made it infinitely stronger.

As I took a moment on a busy day to look at the photos in the various frames around our house, I noticed a theme. Most of the photos we had framed were picture perfect moments. The times where we (and our loved ones) took care to comb our hair, make the bed, put on an outfit that made us feel good and turn our best sides to the camera lens.

Those snapshots of a photo ready moment in life are great. Those are frame-worthy and unquestionably are moments worth remembering. But what about the life that happens in-between those moments?

The days where the avocado-cemented dishes are still in the sink after dinner 3 nights ago. The days where dry shampoo does the job and the iron stays in the closet. The days where life isn’t perfect and you’re not focused on putting your best face forward, but rather are truly down in the trenches, living this beautiful life.

What about those days?


In nine years, I can tell you with absolute conviction: those are the majority. The days where I have my hair combed, the perfect outfit and not a single piece of spinach found in my teeth? Few and far between.

But here’s the thing. The in-between days of life are worth remembering too. Those are the days when life is LIVED. Capital L-I-V-E-D.


As a wedding & lifestyle photographer, I know – that for the most part – when people have stepped in front of my camera, they’ve taken great care to fine-tune their appearance. From the perfect pair shoes to the underwear that fits just right, they are ready to subject themselves to the highly personal thing of being photographed.


I know that to capture the part of life that gives me passion – that fuels a fervent need to truly know people on a deeper level than just what I can see from my lens – I will have to work fast and furious to get my couples and families to the point where they are willing to show me the imperfect nature of life. The place where we laugh hard and freely with our best friend – not caring what that may look like – or, even, the place where life with children is unpredictable and messy but most assuredly beautiful.

My enthusiasm as a photographer revolves around being able to capture life as it actually is. I will, of course, endeavor to capture it as we’d love it to be always; the picture perfect memories that hang on our walls and the walls of those who love us most but what gives me fire is the life that falls into the in-between.


Those are the moments that are rarely recorded, semi-surprising and unbelievably special in so many ways. The moments that we rarely get to view from an outside perspective but ones that always mean the most.

The way he looks at you when you laugh. The way your child clings to you during a meltdown. The whole-body laughter that only comes from knowing someone deeply. The moments where life hangs in the balance of being totally sweet and totally overwhelming at the exact same time. The moment that comes just after you slip into your wedding dress and realize you’re a bride. That funny face. Yeah, that one.


Over nine years of marriage, 11 years of dating and whopping 16 years of being best friends, Matt and I have so many versions of the in-between moment. The sweet, the bittersweet, the inside joke, the frustrating, the downright hard. Right now, most of our moments are covered in dog hair & destroyed dog toy stuffing but that too shall come to pass and I know I will miss it.


So, savor. Relish. Enjoy those in-between moments to the fullest and know that even though those frames are filled with beautiful, picture perfect memories?

The in-between will always be the sweetest.

Happy Anniversary to the most perfectly imperfect man I ever could have asked for.

Matt Oholendt, I will love you to the ends of the earth.


(3) Comments

  1. Beautifully said Melissa! Brandon and I send our love to you and Matt and cannot wait to see you both soon!

  2. Love you! Also, hooray! Love the Oholendts!

  3. The days where my hair is done and my make-up is on….are the majority for me :(


    By the way, I love this and your talent. Happy anniversary big sis!