Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing the Hartness family. But in order to tell you about their session, we need to go back to the beginning...way back to our time in East Tennessee.
This family was one of my very first clients. So new in fact, I would call Meggie to bring herself and her little girl over when I needed to practice some new skills. She even helped me out taking pictures of my middle guy when he was just a little baby!
We became fast friends and kept in touch throughout the years and through 2 PCS's ( for you non-military affiliated folks, that means that our family moved due to military orders).
Fast forward to a few weeks ago...
Her husband contacted me and said he was putting together a little surprise for Meggie and wanted me in on it. He said that he wanted to surprise her with a quick family vacation and as a double surprise- have me photograph it! Of course I was on board. How could I not be? Do you know how hard it was for me not to send Meggie a message and just SCREAM at her that I would see her again soon? And that we would get to meet each other's 3rd babies that we had only seen via social media? And that our big kids that were toddler playmates would get to reunite?
It was hard. You get the point. It was like word vomit. I needed to tell her and talk to her about it. But I kept quiet and patiently waited until about a week before their session and finally her husband caved and told her the whole plan. After all, they were about to drive approximately 530 miles with their 3 kids.
And so he told her (he received much fanfare for being the best ever and giving their family an awesome gift! **hint, hint husbands of the world-- here's a surefire way to make her swoon!**) and they began their journey to Norfolk, Virginia where we met early in the morning for delicious coffee and hot cocoa. I followed them around for the morning and captured fun memories of them exploring a new city. We ended our day with a visit to our favorite park to explore our favorite marsh and play at our favorite playground.
I think the session served a few purposes:
1. It was a fantastic excuse to see each other, hug her neck, and catch up with an old friend.
2. It gave them updated family portraits.
3. It allowed them a spur of the moment getaway where they were able to spend quality time together as a family.
4. Beyond updated family portraits, it gave them the opportunity to have a physical representation of their love and connection with each other. The images serve as a reminder to them, each and every day, of how much they love each other.
5. They now have the best souvenir ever of their time in Norfolk.
Over in Norfolk, there's a cute, picturesque, little craftsman style house that's 100 years old that has charm in every corner and is filled with love- and a sweet little family lives inside it's walls. The home is filled with books and toys, homemade suncatchers adorn their windows. The neighbors drive by calling out to each other and waving.
I was lucky enough to be invited by this family into their home for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. I knew the second I read her initial email that we would probably be a good fit. They wanted an in home session to celebrate home ownership and to document these sweet family afternoons together. They look forward to Sunday afternoon all week and the slow pace of life it brings. They relish in the opportunity to just hang out together and to simply be with each other.
The second I walked in, I felt a mutual trust and immediately began shooting. I was able to capture honest moments that were organic and authentic to their day. I was able to document little details of their 18 month old daughter. Her love for books, her keen observation skills, the way she always sticks her tongue out, the family's love of music- plus we had a fun and challenging game of hide and seek. We never thought we would find her...she's good at this!
In my client questionnaire I send out (or sometimes we do it over the phone/Facetime)- I ask whoever initiated the session- what is it that they love about their significant other. Her answer absolutely warmed my heart. She said her favorite thing about her husband was that he always puts others first, he is kind, and compassionate and loves them so completely. I hope that I captured his kindness and love for them so that when they look at their portraits, that is exactly what they see and that they FEEL the love. Their dynamic together as a family was incredible to be around.
I've listed some reasons why I think in-home sessions are the absolute best (you can read about them here), but honestly, this session perfectly fits all the reasons I love in home sessions. The comfort of being in your own home cannot be replicated just anywhere. This is your home. This is your family. This is unconditional love. This is trust. This is the place where all the important memories are made. There's no place like home.
If you would like to talk about scheduling your next family portraits with me (and possibly in the comfort of your own home), click here or on the contact tab to send me a quick message. You can also find me over on Facebook or Instagram. Don't put off documenting and preserving the things you love- life happens and we can get bogged down- but this is one thing you won't regret.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.