family photographer berwick

Part two - My own family photos whilst having cancer treatment

The Reason…

People have family photos taken for lots of different reasons. Some simply just want professional photos for their walls. Some want to document the age of their children and their development. I have personally had professional photos taken for both those reasons. But this time it was different.

Three days after moving back home to Arawata, I went into surgery to get my breast removed and a whole stack of lymph nodes. There was no time to think, just time to plough through what needed to be done.

Once I was home and the cancer was removed, it wasn’t the feeling I suspected. Instead of being elated that I was now cancer free, I was in despair with the thought that it would come back and it would become a terminal diagnosis.

I spent many hard days with the thoughts that I might not be here to help my family navigate the place I have taken them to. Maybe I wouldn’t have enough time to show them all the things I had loved doing growing up. My children are young, what if they grew up in this house and had no recollection of me being with them here? It was hard, it was real, but that really is the reality of a serious cancer diagnosis.

So I needed a plan to make sure that my children did have memories of me here. I reached out to our family photographer Bec and told her exactly why I needed to hire her to come out to our property and capture some memories for us.

Being the caring, humble beautiful soul she is, she offered to come out and shoot us for free. Travelling 1.5 hours to our home, spending a few hours with us and gifting us with the most incredible images.

A gift to my girls…

I had just started radiation treatment. I had a film all over my chest with lines drawn all over it. My hair had just started growing back. When you have lost it because of chemo, it grows back soft and fluffy and grey until the real hair starts to come through. Thank fully it is no longer grey! I looked like death, but this was going to be a gift to my girls - nothing else mattered.

Bec documented everything we loved doing here as a family. We spent time in each bed room. Char loves reading to us, so we did that. Holly loves her horsey song, so she captured that for us too. We also chose to make the session about documenting my fight. So we took some ‘mastectomy’ images as well. I wanted the girls to remember that yes times were hard, but they were also filled with love and light.

Campbell our fur baby was included and so was the family pony Al. I was lucky to grow up with horses when I was younger, Holly loves horses as much as I do, teaching her to ride fills me with so much joy.

The fight continues…

When I first wrote part one about my diagnosis, I had intended to follow up with Part two the following week. However only a few days later, I found yet again another lump. My suspicions were confirmed, the cancer had returned in my lymph nodes right next to where it originally was. Again waiting for the tests to see if I was terminal was excruciating. But thankfully for now, I’m not. I had more surgery to remove it and am now on 6mths worth of oral chemo.

The Reasons are underlined in your legacy…

The main reason I wanted to share this with you is this…

None of us know what is around the corner. Each day we wake up without sickness or dread, is an absolute blessing. Something I have to remind myself everyday — we are all dying. Some of us will go before they should. Some of us will live on to be 100 and pass in their sleep. But most of us wont. Don’t wait until you receive some news that you have a terminal illness to consider this… how do you want your children to remember you? What have you put into place to ensure your children will remember you? Do us adults like being in photos - not really. Especially not when you don’t think you look your best. But the images are not about that thought. They are a gift to your children. So they will have images to remember you by and take them straight back to those times you sang to them, read with them, cuddled and kissed them. When they begin to forget you, those photos will ensure they wont.

When my Dad died, I remember thinking - what should I take? My dad was a hunter, a gun was the only thing I could think of - but what was I going to do with that! Then I found a photo in his top draw. It was an image of him and I on the beach. I had my eyes closed because I was embarrassed because I had my undies on and didn’t want my photo taken. I had forgotten that moment, until I saw the photo. I was 7 when that photo was taken. I then remembered the entire day and how much fun it was. So what did I take - I took the photos, nothing else, because nothing else could help me remember those moments.

Don’t wait until it is too late, get in that frame Mum and Dad. Gift your kids images of you both with them. I promise you when you are gone, they will be the most precious things they own.

Thank you isn’t really enough for the gift that Bec gave us. She is so incredibly talented and is an absolute beautiful human. You can find her work here…

Love Mel x

Family Photography with the Scott Family

Hidden gems for family photography on the Mornington Peninsula 

I've been busting to have a moment to share this session with you all. It was one of those typical Melbourne days where we had a bit of every weather pattern possible. It's days like this I watch the radar very carefully, because if we are lucky enough to have the rain clear at sunset, it can produce picturesque skies and perfect golden light. Which is exactly what we were blessed with. 

Mornington Peninsula - family photography Melbourne - Flinders Ranges - beach photography

This was also the first time I've photographed at this location on the Mornington Peninsula and I must say - it's a new favourite. At sunset the golden light illuminates the red rock cliffs, giving a glow against the ocean. It is such a stunning backdrop and a great one to explore with families. 

Flinders - Melbourne Photography - Family beach photography Mornington Peninsula


I knew from the first moments spent I would have fun with this gorgeous family. They were full of energy, cheekiness, connection and loved to explore.

Melbourne lifestyle family photography - brothers - laughing - beach photography
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We headed straight down to the beach where we found treasures and watched the huge waves as they rolled in against the rocks. We attacked Mum and Dad with seaweed - which may have or have not been provoked by me;) and carefully crossed the little waterfall. 

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As the sun was about to set, we headed up to the cliffs, walking along the path of long sea grass. We played some more games and even found some dandelions to blow away. 

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As you probably all know by now, I ask my family clients to tell me a little about themselves as a family. This helps me get to know each individual personality so I can help showcase that during the shoot. It also helps me to know the deep connections you have as a family. It is usually the Mums that give me the info, but I do love it so much when Dads get involved too. And Tige won me over straight away with his beautiful words about his stunning wife. 

Here is some of what the Scott family shared with me..

Melbourne family photographer - Berwick family photography - Flinders - beach - family connection

For myself I always knew I wanted to be a mum and have a family, my husband fell in love with my niece when she was born and was eager to have kids after that. Once they were born he asked me why we waited so long. As you know its challenging and tough each and every day but the rewards far outweigh the hard times.

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We have our own business (my husband has trucks and he works interstate a lot) so we are very busy and time with our family is very precious. When my husband is home we try and do our best to always spend time together as a family and enjoy whatever time to have. Through all our challenges and struggles we always seem to come through them stronger and we are very blessed because we are a good team together and on most things we are always on the same page and work together to achieve the same goals in life. We struggled having children and Chase was an IVF baby but even though we had 3 miscarriages we managed to conceive Spencer and Sienna naturally so we feel very blessed and lucky to have 3 amazing and healthy children. Sure they drive us mad sometimes but it's our family and we love them so much and we really are happy in our lives. 

We have a holiday home in Ocean Grove so we spend a lot of time there and we also try and get out on our sky boat when we can, not as often as my husband would like though. We live busy lives but we try to keep them active and exploring outdoors. We don’t have gadgets for our kids even though they ask constantly but we want them to be active and engage in other activities. We love parks and playgrounds, beach and water and when in Ocean Grove we take them to Adventure Park as often as we can. We look forward to travelling more and being able to take them overseas to experience the world and other cultures.

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'Chase is 6 and the oldest, he is very artistic and creative, he enjoys jokes and anything that challenges his mind and creative side. , I love watching him happy and engaged in something he is passionate about, which is usually drawing and construction.'

Natural Melbourne family photography - Berwick Photographer - family connection - outdoors - beach
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'Spencer is 4 and our free spirit. He is loving, caring and considerate. He has a really cheeky side and loves to giggle.'

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'Sienna is 2 (3 in April) and she is our perfect little princess, loves all things girly and sweet but having 2 older boisterous brothers she is very head strong and capable. Sienna to me is just perfect, she is loving and happy and I just love everything about her!'

Melbourne family photographer - Berwick family photography - Mornington Peninsula - father and daughter
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'Tige is very loving and affectionate with not only me but the kids, he is a very hands on with our kids and tries very hard to engage with them. He is a hard worked and very passionate. He is masculine yet very kind hearted and considerate of others. I’m very lucky to have someone that loves me so much!'

What Tige says about Caroline... 'What I love most about you is that you are the most kind and warm hearted lady. You are the love of my life. I am honoured and privileged to have you as the mother of my children and my partner in crime. We work so well together and you make me a much better person. With you by my side I believe we can achieve anything.'

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Thank you Scott Family - it was a privilage to be chosen to document your family. And please thank the kids for me again for the invitation to dinner - hehe xoxo

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Dizon Family Photos - Dandenong Ranges



Photographing in Sherbrooke Forest with this gorgeous family...

Kathryn, Earl and their two girls Ava and Zoe

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When working out a location for family photography, I begin by asking clients their favourite places to visit as a family. From there I refer to my list of locations and find one that matches the places they usually explore as a family. So for this gorgeous lot, the Dandenongs was the perfect place to head out to for some photos. 

As soon I met the girls, I knew we were going to have lots of fun! They were bubbly, full of excitement and loved to explore. Their love for their Mum and Dad was evident right from the get go, lots of non prompting kisses and cuddles. Honestly the four of them were a dream to photograph and the hardest part from the whole experience, was culling their photos. 

Here is what Kathryn had to say about her beautiful fam...

Earl & I met at high school, we started dating when we were 18 years old and have been together ever since (18 years). This year we are celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. Throughout our 18 years together, like other couples we have shared many highs and some lows but we have supported each other throughout the entire way. We have purchased 2 houses together, experienced holidays overseas and in Australia, attended music festivals and watched our favourite bands, eaten at fabulous restaurants,  and enjoyed so many fun and exciting times together. We have grown so much as individuals and as a couple and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our little family. 

We haven’t had any professional photos taken for over 3 years; when our youngest daughter was a newborn so I felt it was definitely time to do it again. 

Having children was something we both always wanted. I always knew that I would be a mum and am so happy that we have been blessed with our two gorgeous girls. 

These words come to mind when thinking about our daughter’s personalities: 

Ava (6 years old) – Confident, energetic, funny, determined, clever, fearless, opinionated, enthusiastic, loveable

Zoe (3 years old) – Cheeky, sensitive, clever, cautious, strong-willed, inquisitive, talkative, loveable

Ava, our beautiful firstborn. I love so many things about Ava; she is enthusiastic, outgoing and has a great sense of humour. I love the way she loves her little sister, she has a very caring nature and is keen to help others.  Ava is cheeky but can be very serious and she always gives things a go. I love Ava’s creative side, the way she sings and dances and her passion for performing. I love Ava’s eagerness to learn, she is very intelligent and it was amazing watching her grow so much in her first year of school. I love Ava’s long brown wavy locks, her light brown eyes and beautiful tanned coloured skin.  I am so proud of our Ava and feel blessed that she picked me to be her mummy. 

Zoe, who we call our Zozo. I love her cheekiness, her giggle is infectious and her smile is amazing. Zoe has a very sensitive side to her and can be shy at times but once she is comfortable in her surroundings, her beautiful personality shines through. Zoe is a little pocket rocket, on the go all the time and I feel like she has energy that can last for days! She started talking very early on and is such a chatterbox, we have great conversations. I love Zoe’s quirkiness and her quick witted nature. I love Zoe’s curly dark brown hair, her big deep brown coloured eyes and her beautiful tanned skin.  I am so proud of our Zozo and feel so blessed that she also picked me to be her mummy. 

I secretly hoped for another daughter when I was pregnant with Zoe as I have a sister. I have a close relationship with my sister so I wanted that for my girls, a best friend for life. 

Zoe adores her big sister, don’t get me wrong they have their moments together but overall there is definitely a lot of love there! 


Earl...My best friend, the person who I have shared so many milestones with and the person who really truly just gets me. I love the way Earl loves his girls – they are his everything, he is such a wonderful dad and will do anything for his family. I love Earl’s passion for life, he is so caring, loving, sensitive and is such a hard worker. I love Earl’s outgoing personality, I think I am a bit more reserved and shy so we definitely complement/balance each other. Earl is my soul mate and I love the life we have created together. 

Home with my sister and her loves

South Gippsland Family Photography

With my sister Brooke, her partner Ben and my nephew Hunter

I grew up in South Gippsland in a small town called Korumburra. As you get older, have children and as I begin to find my voice as a photographer... I've really started to appreciate my sense of place and the elements in my life that have shaped who I am. 

Many close friends in this small country town were made and of whom I still call my best friends. It's where I made the greatest of memories with my family and the beauty of its surrounds still reflects in how I see the world. 

As soon as I was 18, I knew that I would leave. I needed to see beyond the small town life and experience what the world had to offer. But we are so fortunate to still call it home as my family still live there and my sister very close by, so we visit often. 

Ben and Brooke met in high school at Korumburra and now together have a 2 year old son Hunter. I may be a very biased Aunty, but he has me completely wrapped around his little finger. He can be gentle, sensitive, has a wicked sense of humour and wicked laugh to match. He is extremely clever and is very much a country kid who loves nature as much as us. Hunter can now drive himself around in his remote control car and race his dad on the ride on lawnmower. He is tractor and truck obsessed and has a love for every animal on the planet. When he is tired he runs his fingers through your hair and will only sleep with body contact - just like his Mum! 

From the backyard of one of our first family homes, we could see a place known as One Tree Hill. My Mum would tell me that it leans over as a small aeroplane once crashed into it. (a little fiction I think;) But for me that tree is so iconic of the town. It is one of the highest points and from the very top you have panoramic views. On a clear day, you can see right out to the ocean. 

Ben's grandfather owns land just down the road from One Tree Hill, so the area also has special ties with his own family. 

The day of the shoot, the weather was typical Melbourne, cold, windy, calm, stormy, clear. So we were back and forth with deciding whether or not to go ahead. However one great thing about storms, is that they produce incredible skies. You just have to be brave enough to risk the downpour that usually goes with it. So we risked it and we were blessed with the most amazing skies you could have hoped for. Plus for an added bonus we were presented with a rainbow - I was in photographer heaven!! 

I love to include items of sentiment in shoots. So the first one ... Hunters cowboy boots!

( The tractor also snuck in. Not sentimental as such, but sentimental to a 2 year old who is grumpy after a nap and refuses to give it up;) 

Second ...Ben's much loved ute.

And thirdly...Wally the growing puppy.

The rest were all about their special connection and of course that amazing skyline and rainbow!!

This time of day is really magical to capture. If you love sunsets and pretty skies as me and would like to include them in your shoot, the best time to photograph is 1-2 hours before sunset. Right now the sun is setting a little later around 8pm and is getting earlier as we go. April the 1st sees the end of daylight savings, so shooting times can even happen before dinner. It's not too late to book your own sunset shoot, I'll still have 3 spots in March left and 3 in April. So would love to hear from you. 

Mel xx





My Own Family Portraits

Each year, we get the tripod out, keep the kids up past their bed time and head out to 'attempt' some family portraits with my little muses. This year in particular, I have been on a mission to get in front of the camera. I'm the first to avoid it and the first to cringe when I see photos of myself. However 2018 - I have set myself a goal to change that. Not only for me, but so my kids can see their Mum confident in her own skin. Plus they are growing so damn fast, I need more photos of me with my babies!!! So although, I'm still very far from being photogenic, we did manage to get some photos of all of us in them that are going to become part of our family wall collection that I will treasure forever. 

We ate fish and chips for dinner and then visited some places I've had my eye on for a few years. Most spots were completely different to how I imagined them - I guess travelling 100km an hour past a location is not a good gage. As the sun was about to set we decided to go down a dirt road and discovered this little gem (first image) so pleased we did! 

I have also decided to walk the talk by letting you all in on our own family story, something that I ask from my clients. 


 Charlotte bear...

This little incredible girl has a memory like an elephant - she literally remembers everything! I have zero idea where she inherited that from! She is as girly as it comes. From the moment she was capable, she would change her outfit 5 times a day if it had a speckle of dirt on it. But now she is at school - I have to wipe the dirt of her face every morning after constant reminders to look in the mirror when washing her face fail.  She is not a fan of pants unless they are leggings! Hates any food labelled a vegetable and would live on chocolate if she could. She is baby obsessed and keeps asking for another sister so she can care for it. But for now she will have to suffice with playing second Mum to my 2 year old nephew who just worships her. 

Our girl also has a heart of pure gold. I'm proud of many of her qualities but the best quality is her kindness and care she shows to others. She has many many friends and young ones are drawn to her nurturing ways. She wants to make everything and everyone better all the time and hates conflict. 

She is our deep deep thinker and holds a lot in. This is my biggest worry for her as her Mum as you can imagine. We work on this often and everyday. 

When we had Char we hoped for another daughter to give her a best friend for life. And best friends they are. Char looks out for Holly, even letting her sneak in bed with her when she has had a bad dream. Just last night she told me off for beating Holly at cards and making her feel sad. Char has written lots of notes to Holly about how much she loves her and how much she means to her, that now take pride on her bedroom door. They have their moments like any relationship but quickly get over any little arguments. Holly idolises Charlotte, she mimics her every move - but they are very different in personality. 

Our Holly... 

One of the things I love about parenting... as they grow you learn more and more about them and you immediately start to work out which parts were inherited from whom. Char is 99% her Dad. This one is 99% like me. So yes we clash - we are going to have some doozy battles when she is a teenager. But we just get each other and now that she has just started school, I feel like a body part is missing. I miss her so much and still shed a tear or two - I know such a sook!

She has a wicked sense of humour - a quick wit and a strong drive to make what she wants happen. Our little bear is a different girl in the comfort of her own home. Everyday she has us in hysterics and quite often I think she was put on this earth to make us laugh. Outside of the home she is ultra shy. This breaks my heart a little, as I just want her to be confident and comfortable enough to show the outside world who she is.  

My husband... moved in together (overseas)  after two weeks of dating! Travelled together, bought a fur baby, had a human baby! Got married, bought a house, had another human baby. Been together for 11 years and married for 7. 

I knew quite early on that this man would make the perfect father. With a not so perfect one of my own, finding a man who was going to be an amazing Dad was one of the very important factors in deciding to spend the rest of my life with him. He spoils them a little too much, but they are his everything and he makes sure that they know that each and every day. 

He is the organiser of our home - I'm useless with that stuff and makes sure we want for nothing. My heart is very happy that these girls have this incredible man as their father and I have him as my partner for life. He is also quite the creative himself. He and I would have battles with who could take the photo of the day when we were travelling overseas. Majority of the time - he won! He is not a fan at listening to his wife however, so maybe if that could improve he could learn how to use our camera and join forces with me! hehe 

With a quick 2 minute demo he did manage to take a few keepers. This one is my fav so I'm pretty damn lucky! 

Then it was time to set the tripod up for some last family selfies before we took the kids to McDonalds at 9.15pm for their promised ice - cream cones! Parents of the year right here! ;) 

The kids said...'that was actually fun Mum.' And were pretty wrapped that they got to stay up way passed their bedtime on a school night. 

If you love the outdoors and those warm balmy nights as much as my own family and would love your family story told. I would love to make the most of this summer and create some stunning candid portraits for you. I have a few sessions left for this season, so please shoot me an inquiry to find out more :) xx



Beach photography session with the Hurrey family

Hi everyone - my first blog post for 2018!

A Family Photography shoot on the Mornington Peninsula

This beautiful family was the lucky one who won my family photography session. I must say, I too felt very lucky - as they were a dream to photograph. They love the beach as much as I do and Melbourne put on a spectacular night for us.

The Hurrey Family spend a lot of time at Ben's Mum's house at Alexandra (near Lake Eildon). They also love days at the beach, bike rides along the foreshore, swimming and trying new things as a family. They had their best family holiday last year in Nusa Dua and both boys regularly ask when they're going back (later this year hopefully).

We got some stunning family portraits in the golden light that was streaming in. Ben and Narelle getting in some 'alone' shots too and stealing the show with the 'parent kiss' hehe. They cuddled up in the grass area and they piggy backed the boys to the soft sand. Piggy backs are always a big hit! 

What Ben loves most about his family...

'Narelle – The true leader of the family. the most dedicated mother and I know and the most organised person anyone has ever known. Totally dedicated to our family and getting the most out of our lives together.
Miller – his love for life. He never wants to sit still and always want to do more, learn more and be more.
Lawson – His loving soul is something to behold. His big heart and warm smile makes everyone love him.
Me – hard to say. I work damn hard for my family to build a lifestyle we can be proud of and raise my boys to be caring, loving successful men.

I had been down at the beach a little earlier with my own family. So I made sure I kept some left over chips so the kids could feed the seagulls. 

The boys showed me their handwriting skills by scrolling in the sand. We found some slimy fish eggs, they had races along the sand and explored their reflections in the water. 

How Ben describes Miller...

'Miller is bold, hilarious, silly, adventurous and crazy at times. But also highly intelligent (having just excelling in his first year at school), very loving and ready to help absolutely anyone. He has a big heart and isn’t afraid to show is emotions, except when it comes to girls, who love him, but he gets all shy and coy. He has no fear – big waterslides, roller coasters, indoor rock climbing, scooters, bikes and the rest, he’s into it. He got a Gopro for Christmas and wants to become a You tube star.'

How Ben describes Lawson....

'Lawson is a bit more reserved, but very cunning and clever in other ways. He is one of the most loving little people I have ever met and will happily tell us how much he loves us multiple times a day. He is proving to be quite the ladies man too, he as had his first girlfriend already and they were planning to get married before the end of kinder. He’s just as happy to ride like a mad thing on his scooter or bike as much as he is happy to tuck up under your arm, chill out and watch a movie. He is very hands on and could easily grow up to be a tradie, chef or something that requires a lot of precision.'

One of my favourite parts to family photography sessions is to showcase connections between each family member.

And a huge clap hands for Narelle and Ben for allowing me to capture the love they share for each other. The kids think its gross now, but as they grow up they will have images to prove how in love their parents are and what a special thing that is! 

Ben shared a little insight into the wonderful relationship he and Narelle share. And might I add - this makes turning 40 sound like something I actually want to do ;) 

'Narelle has also planned an extravagant 40th birthday for me. I turn 40 in Feb and she is doing ‘40 presents for 40 days to celebrate 40 years’ which involves a gift, activity or adventure everyday. This has so far involved song playlists of the top 40 songs from 1978, 40 photos of my life so far, massages and a ride in my dream car a split window Kombi.
Narelle and I are also travelling to New York and Texas this year to celebrate both of us turning 40 (Narelle was last year).'


To finish up we used that stunning Melbourne sunset to get some family shots. And then to my surprise Narelle and Ben had brought some paper lanterns. I was beyond excited when I saw these. They have to be lit and then the hot air fills the lantern and causes it to float. The kids made a wish as they watched the lanterns float out to sea into the last minutes of light. It was a special moment indeed. 

The shoot defined everything I love about family photography. I got to capture - the family at play and witness them explore. I photographed their connection, the joy and the love that they share. It really was a perfect night in every way. 

This spot would have to be my all time favourite spot to photograph. It is quiet, the tide is almost always out on sunset at this time of year, and as you can see the light is just magical. To get this magical light, we aim to start shooting at around 7pm. So during daylight savings, I tell my families to have an early dinner, and then we go out and explore and play until the sun goes down. 

If you would like the essence of your story told - I would sure love to tell it!

With only weeks remaining of summer, spots are limited. So if you love summer, the beach and would love your family photographed their too - lets make it happen. I step you through the entire process, we find what works best for your family, if its not the beach - thats ok! I have other stunning locations I can take you to. I also help with wardrobe selection and can offer payment plans. 

What's New with Mel Lawler Photography? 

After taking some family time to enjoy the holidays. We are back into the swing of things. There have been lots of new stunning images uploaded to the galleries so please take a look. I have also made some changes to some of the newborn packages I offer, simplifying the process and hopefully showcasing to clients exactly what I do and what to expect. So please take a look around, I would love to hear your thoughts. :)