Nikki Santerre is someone who gets to know people on a level that’s much more than just what’s on the surface. She seems to have an ease with which she does this, too. I envy this about her. And it’s also what drew me to her work years ago.
Yes, her photographs are gorgeous! But that connection she creates is what I saw when I looked at those photographs. As a photographer myself I knew in my heart that her work wasn’t just captured for the person you see in those photos. Her work is essentially a documentation of history. They are stories of our present, our soon-to-be past, and they become more and more valuable as time passes.
When we moved to Virginia it took me almost no time to finally reach out to Nikki to see if she could help me reinvent my branding, my online image, help me tell my story. And despite her extremely packed schedule, new baby, and gobs of editing already on her desk – she happily said she would help me. For this, I will always and forever be thankful.
What she knew about my story before we even started talking about the vision for my portrait session was that we are beekeepers. This was a homeschooling endeavor turned passion project for our family. We have learned more about our pollinators these past few years than I ever dreamed we would. And I also found myself wanting to share everything I could about honeybees with our friends and family. Nikki pulled on this knowledge of our family’s involvement in caring for honeybees and selling our honey for some of the portraits for our session. And I must admit – these are some of my favorite images from our time together.
Our honeybee journey started in 2020 when much of the world was beginning to hunker down and deal with a pandemic. Since we had a huge amount of time on our hands, schools were closing, and all of my work was being rescheduled, we needed a way to get outside and get busy. Like the rest of the world, I started dabbling in sourdough. But I wanted more. And that’s how I started our beekeeping journey.
When our supplies started arriving I pulled out my camera and started documenting everything from unboxing and assembly, to picking up our honeybees from a farm near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. The whole process was new to me and kind of scary (since I hadn’t been stung by a bee since one flew up my pants years earlier, landing me in Urgent Care due to the swelling and horrible reaction I had). Why in the world would I drive hours and spend hundreds of dollars to care for something that could potentially put me back in Urgent Care?
Because I wanted my children to learn about how important pollinators are to our food sources. Because I knew that if our pollinators died off, eventually we would too. Because I didn’t want to be afraid of caring for something that could hurt me. Because I wanted to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Because I knew that if we cared for them, they would help us. Because nature is fascinating, brutal, beautiful, and the world is so much bigger than what’s going on in our little houses.
Did you know that medical studies have been done on bee venom and the impact it has on our bodies? Did you know that beekeepers, as a group, have far less cases of inflammatory diseases, like arthritis? Did you know that there’s a direct link to bee venom and our body’s inflammatory responses? Every sting I have ever received (and there have been many!) has actually helped my body. (Important note: if you are allergic, please do not seek out bee venom in attempts to heal arthritic pain.)
Our family has really only scratched the surface of beekeeping and learning about the lives of honeybees. I’m thrilled about this simple fact, and I look forward to many more summers bundled up in my hot bee suit inspecting frames and searching for the queen.
I’m always an open book about beekeeping (or anything else, for that matter). So if you find yourself with the same interests, tell me. I could literally talk for hours and hours about these fascinating creatures. We also sell and gift our honey to friends and family. If you’re lucky, you might just find a little jar of our raw honey in a welcome gift from us!