family session at home: the happy heart retreat

I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful family while teaching in Buffalo, NY at the Happy Heart Project Artist’s weekend. My dear friend (and one of the co-founders of the retreat) Erin Brant used to live in Buffalo, and when she told us about this magical family she had lined up as models for our in-home session I knew it was going to be an extra special session.

Family sessions at home are super important to me. These are the spaces where we literally make up our lives - the familiar creaking of the old steps in the same place every time, the way the light falls across the floor in the kitchen just so first thing in the morning. When we get invited into a family’s space, we get to see their story - and who they are - in a much more intimate way.

I loved every minute with this family. They were the kindest, most fun, most loving humans to be with all morning, and the energy in their home felt so cozy. I’m so grateful that all our retreat attendees (and all of us teachers) had a chance to capture these loves, and that we were able to share back images with them that really reflect what a beautiful life and love they have for one another. For me, that’s truly what this work is about when it’s all said and done.

family session at home: parker turns 1

I didn’t know it at the time, but I met sweet little Parker when she was the size of a peanut. Literally! I photographed Parker’s parents (Caitlin + George) for the first time two Octobers ago - on a windy Saturday afternoon in South Philadelphia. I loved them together, and it was so evident how well they loved together, too. We romped around the local dog park with their dogs Bruno and Zeus and talked about the parts of Philly that we all love (I spent most of my first 8 years there.) Little did I know that just a few days before, they’d found out they were expecting!

Since that day, I’ve photographed little Parker three times. We did her newborn and 6 month old photos in their home in South Philly, and then life brought them all down to Charlotte, North Carolina just a few months before she turned 1. I hopped a plane to capture photos for her first birthday, and it was the most magical treat to pull up to their new house and see sweet Parker STANDING at the door! I nearly died. How could this child - who was standing and walking! - be the same as the kiddo I’d seen crawling around on her parent’s bed 6 months before? TIME ACTUALLY FLIES. I’m a momma, and I still forget this every time.

Our original plan was for me to fly down on Saturday afternoon to do a documentary session on Sunday morning, but let’s be honest - put me in a house with my camera, and nothing to do but hang with a 1-year-old for 24 hours? I’m gonna take a lot of pictures. We had the most amazing time catching up, and Parker did all the totally, completely ordinary things that I LOVE to capture when I’m in a client’s home - taking all the toys out of the toy box, playing with the pups, changing diapers, and even waking up from naps (ok, the going down for naps are pretty exciting too.) Lots of treats were had too, including one epic double-scoop ice cream cone that I’m still dreaming about.

I love this sweet little one and her family, and I’m so grateful to have captured so many milestones for them over the last two years! PS, if you peek at the first photo in this post, you’ll see two shots from our windy afternoon session a few years back hanging on their fridge!

In-home family session: the levys

Before I tell you anything else, let me tell you this: Alicia Levy has the coolest closest, the most sophisticated cat, and the best laugh of anyone I know. Full stop. She also happens to be a totally kickass photographer, who somehow makes magic out of thin air and fairy dust for every school portrait I’ve ever seen her take. I met Alicia because she took my own son’s school photos a few years ago, and she captured him in a way I’d never seen in a “school photo.” The images were so amazing, I had to send her a note and thank her (yes, they were so beautiful that she made me cry..those photographers, man.) Fast forward a few years and I’m so lucky to call this kind soul a friend. 

It’s always humbling when another artist wants to hire you for your work - and when she asked me to capture her family in their new home, I was so excited. Photographers - especially photographers who are mommas - have a really hard time getting in the frame, and I wanted to be sure that the images we made together reflected what a present parent and partner she is, and how much of herself she’s put into her new home. 

I know her son Jaxon from school, and this made our session all the more fun! We did all the things he loves to do inside and out, and I made sure there was time for Alicia and her husband David to spend some time just being together too. We often forget that before there was a family, there was a couple, and one of my favorite parts of family sessions is to create some intentional space for parents in front of my lens. It was so much fun to capture these three together - especially our barefoot in the yard bubble fest at the end!