little boy eats rainbow cake at his 2nd birthday party while sitting on his dad's lap. Candid documentary images by Kristyn Miller Photography

a special birthday party:

zion turns 2!

I’ve photographed sweet Zion for a few big life celebrations — the first just a few weeks after he was born — and when his momma asked me to document the gathering of friends and family for birthday party #2, I couldn’t wait to say yes! Little Z is a gorgeous ray of light in all the ways, and he has this magical way of bringing people closer together just by being himself.

I don’t shoot a ton of birthday parties, but I will say yes if I can shoot them with my candid, photojournalistic style (annnnnd have a few bites of cake while I’m at it). There were so many sweet moments in this little birthday party — old friends getting together and little ones that seem to get bigger by the minute.

Zion’s parents, Luke and Marcella (full disclosure, they are dear friends of mine), know how to throw a good party. Add in the magic styling chops of Marcella’s sister Laurie (@letsgosightsee) and you know you’re in for a beautiful time. I love shooting parties like this — I mean, it’s kind of like a wedding! Kids running everywhere, delicious cake, really good music…everything but the vows. The best part might be watching these little’s faces while the crowd sings happy birthday — not sure they want to be the center of attention, but loving every minute nonetheless.

Marcella has this tradition of making a rainbow cake for birthdays — individual layers, colored for each stripe of the rainbow. I love that she makes it by hand every time — it’s this wonderful reminder that love is handmade and purposeful. The photos from this afternoon birthday party are all the sweeter when I think about the fact that, unbeknownst to us, we were all headed into quarantine just a few days later. This tight group of friends has, for the most part, spent the last four months apart. Families separated, friends choosing to facetime instead of meet up for coffees and beers, kiddos reminding each other to “keep space from friends” (my own son’s words). In the moments during this delicious party afternoon, none of us knew what was on the horizon. But, man, we were lucky to be together.

This is the way it always is, isn’t it? We don’t ever know what’s coming, but we can know what IS. I look back on the images from this special afternoon and think about how everyone there was present for one another — and for Zion — and how lucky that was.

So, here’s to Zion. Happy Birthday, Z! We love you and all you’ve brought into the world.

If you’re interested in connecting for a family shoot or you have a little who has a birthday coming up and you’d like a candid, documentary-style birthday session, let’s chat!