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Caleb Nelson was born just five months before Katie and I moved to Ukraine, and has since played a very prominent role in our lives. We’ve enjoyed watching him grow and experience life. We’ve loved watching him learn and observing his personality develop. He’s a smart kid, and has a gift at endearing himself to those around him.

For Caleb’s whole life, I have been his personal photographer. It hasn’t been a paying gig, but it’s been one I’ve truly treasured. It’s been my goal to not simply document special occasions in his life, but to capture his contagious personality as well. It’s been a challenge I’ve cherished, and one I hope makes the baby slideshows of his future stand out among his peers.

Today Caleb turns four years old, which makes us a little sad over here in Ukraine. The Nelsons moved back to the States a week ago and, as such, suspended my employment as the family photographer. This will be the first birthday party of his we haven’t attended. The first one I didn’t get to shoot.

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I suppose what we’re feeling today is just an inkling of what it feels like when missionaries move the grandkids to the other side of the world: How could you do that to us? Is he even going to remember us? As Caleb’s unofficial aunt and uncle, you can color us heartbroken.

But life moves on; these pictures from the last four years are proof enough of that. The day before they left last week, I had the chance to shoot one last set of birthday portraits. I love how they turned out. Baby Caleb has grown into 100% little boy, and he’s on his way to becoming entirely little man. We’re proud of him, and know that he’s going to do amazing things in this life.

Our only regret today is knowing that we’ll have to watch it all from afar, while looking at someone else’s pictures.

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Happy Birthday, Caleb!

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