Okay, I have to say, when a big family (and I mean big), gets together at a big beach house for a family vacation- you can count me in! Sandbridge Beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia is the perfect backdrop for this! It's a small little area that feels a lot like the Outerbanks in North Carolina.
This family came in from all over to meet at the beach house. They were celebrating the grandfather's retirement from Princeton University.
I was immediately ushered in and got to work. There was a lot of different things going on and a lot of different sub-stories happening all at once.
You know me, I was immediately sucked into the children's perspective of vacation. It brought me back to my childhood days vacationing with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. (I've got a ton of stories to share about that!) Needless to say, I instantly felt all the nostalgic feelings and began to immerse myself in their little world. I practically got heart eyes as I walked into their room and found that they had made their bunk beds into a fort!
The teenagers were teenagering in the downstairs game room area. Playing pool, hanging out on the beach, lounging in the hot tub (by the way, it was 98 degrees that day!), and playing fun board/party games. I even got serenaded when 2 of the guys played Nirvana for me! I love a good jam sesh.
They made homemade ice cream (it was a first for all of us!), pico de gallo (we debated all day whether it needed more lime or cilantro), played a game of chess, built more forts, played more games, swam a bit, did a lot of talking, telling stories, and hanging out, and before I knew it- it was time for family portraits on the beach.
I know it sounds like a lot and yet, not a lot, but hanging out and just settling into the no-rush vibe of beach life is what memories are made of. These are the moments of vacation that will stick with them forever.
I know it's true for me at least.
If you'd like to talk about having your vacation memories documented, I would love to talk with you. I want you in front of the camera with your family on your vacation, not behind it. I don't want you absent from every photo.
Click the Contact tab above or just click here. Fill out the form and let's get the conversation started!
Should you include your pets into your family photo sessions? The answer is absolutely yes. Always yes. So many reasons yes.
Pets play an enormous part in our lives. I'm willing to bet that there aren't many life events that don't have your pets somewhere in the story.
One of the huge perks of a Day in the Life Session or an in home Storytelling Session with me is that your beloved pets can be incorporated into your session absolutely stress free. I am 100% pet friendly and I am always thrilled to get pet cuddles!
Let's talk about why it's a good idea to include them...
Because they are like family.
They live with you. They eat with you. They sleep with you. They love you. They cuddle you. They don't judge you. They are always there for you.
They are a character in the story of life.
Because you share almost every important life experience with them.
We go through the journey of life with them- births, deaths, a marriage, a bad breakup, raising a family, a new job, losing a job, making a new friend, losing a friend, moving to a new place. There's not much they don't go through right along with us.
Because you love them.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
I asked people about their pets, I asked to hear stories about them, and I asked for them to simply share what their pets meant to them. Ask yourself these same questions and I think you'll find the answer is pretty clear. Your pets deserve to be in your family photographs and deep down, you want them in there too!
This story is about a Cane Corso/ Italian Mastiff (average weight, 100-130lbs) and was sent to me by his owner:
"He was turned into a shelter by his [previous] owner. He had a knee injury and she couldn’t afford to fix it. So her bright idea was to just stop feeding him normal servings of food so he would lose weight and hopefully get around better. In turn he lost all his muscles, stopped walking, resorting to eating rocks and sticks and could only crawl. He was a senior at 6y old. When I got him he was carried inside my house and was 60lb. He would slide across the floor and bark and growl at us. At first, we thought he was being nasty, but it was just how he communicated. He slowly put on weight and he began to walk assisted. He began PT (physical therapy) and eventually after about 6 months could walk on his own. At about a year, he could run a few feet before stumbling. His knees were treated with supplants and pain meds. He became ours quickly and made himself at home. He had an instant connection with my daughters and on a couple unfortunate occasions, he actually protected us with his life by putting himself in front of us. This boy was of sound mind and bullet proof when it came to his temperament. I’ve never in my life had another dog like him. Unfortunately we were only gifted about 3 good years and then supplements no longer curbed the pain. We had to make the decision to let him go. He is and always will be my heart dog who taught us many lessons."
Another story about a sweet pup named Bonny:
"I've always considered myself a "cat person." I had a few dogs as a kid, but mostly cats. My husband and I went to the shelter to "just look" at dogs. They brought out a very energetic lab puppy. He was so cute, but a little too hyper for our lifestyle. Then they brought out this tiny beagle. She was underweight, barely 14 pounds. You could see her ribs. She was sooo shy/passive, but very receptive to attention (especially belly and ear rubs). The shelter seemed to think she was used as a hunting dog that was left behind. We instantly fell in love with sweet Bonny. We've had her for about seven years and now she is a healthy 20 pounds. She doesn't do tricks. She doesn't play with toys. But she's always ready to cuddle. She's my little shadow and always has to be touching me. This little girl has brought so much joy to our lives. Love my Bonny."
Want to schedule your pet friendly session? Let's do it! Click here or the Contact tab above to send me a message. I'd love to talk with you about what a session could look like for your family- fur babies included.
A few weeks ago, I had the absolute honor of traveling up to the Eastern Shore of Virginia to document an afternoon in the life of this sweet family. Every year, they gift a photo session to the grandmother/mother/mother-in-love and I honestly couldn't think of a more perfect gift to give someone I love.
And even better, when I got there, I was instantly welcomed into their lives.
What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering. -Robert Brault
I love looking at an ordinary scene and making art out of what I see. Our ordinary moments are so beautiful, we only need to look a little closer.
I immediately was ushered onto a boat for a ride to one of their family's favorite destinations, lovingly named Crab Beach. We searched for crabs and mermaid treasures.
They enjoyed an afternoon of swimming, playing, riding dirt bikes, and eating delicious food.
I couldn't help but to be reminded of my own childhood and thinking of my own past experiences (you can read more about what I have to say about on this topic in this blog) . These familial places that hold deep meaning to our families help to shape our life and our memories. When they think back on their childhood, they will remember the people and the setting- and when these together are combined...it feels a lot like home.
I hope these images are something this family will treasure.
To schedule your own Day in the Life Session, please contact me here or by using the Contact tab above. I would love to talk with you about how best to preserve your memories and how I can serve your family.
Wondering what a Day in the Life Session with me is like? Read this blog post to find some helpful information and maybe answer some of your ponderings.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.