Some say that Friday is for fun, but this family goes all out on Sunday. Due to work schedules, Sunday is their day to be together with nothing on the agenda except what they want to do. Sometimes that means Dad makes pancakes from scratch and they hang around the house, but more times than not it means that they pack in the fun with their daughter and squeeze a week's worth of fun into a single day.
This session captured one of the activity filled Sundays. I've worked with this family several times in the past and I was so over-the -moon thrilled that they decided on a Day in the Life Session!
When I arrived, everyone was finishing up getting dressed and we were headed out the door for fresh, gourmet coffee (and the best cup of Earl Grey for me!) at The Cure in downtown Norfolk. Then we strolled down the streets of this charming district, took in the beautiful water views, watched sailboats, and ended up at the "Pirate Park" to play.
As lunchtime neared, we headed to Taste for the best sandwiches and salads in all of Hampton Roads. (Seriously, if you're coming to visit the area- this is the place you want to go!) They decided to dine at home because friends were stopping by to say hi and for a quick play date. And of course, we don't want to miss that, do we?
They played, enjoyed the day to it's fullest, fed the birds, made brownies, and even had time to throw together an amazing lasagna before bath and bed time.
I have to say, sessions like these are my absolute favorite. I'm with you for your whole day and I love the freedom it gives me to truly capture your family. It gives me ample opportunity to see the heart of your family and to understand your "why". There's no pressure. There's no posing or saying cheese. You don't have to be "on". You just have to be. I try to blend right into the family and just enjoy the day right along with you.
If you're on the fence about booking a session, just do it. You won't regret it. You'll love the memories captured and you'll treasure them for years to come. Even your ordinary days are really magical, you've just got to see it.
Click here to inquire about booking your session or click the contact tab above. I can't wait to talk to you about your memories.
I passed a house the other day.
It's windows were boarded.
Its wood was all gray.
Yet I could not forget it,
As I went on my way.
A long droopy porch,
With windows above,
I bet this old house,
Was once filled with love.
Its broad rock chimney
Sat at one end.
For warmth of the family,
And many a friend.
Its beauty I konw,
Had been one of glory.
I wish this old house,
Could tell me its story.
Then my mind went back,
To another time,
The family was mine.
No appliance or TV,
Only old lamp light,
Where Dad read the Bible,
And prayed every night.
A home filled with laughter,
A sister, a brother,
A strong, Godly father,
A gentle, kind mother.
Though they worked so hard,
Day after day,
They were never too tired,
Or too busy to play.
We walked in the woods,
We played in the brooks,
And learned things of nature,
You don't find in a book.
We gathered wild flowers,
While Dad made us whistles,
Picked berries for mom,
Through briers and thistles.
When we reached home,
The berries were dripping,
The flowers were wilted,
And we were not skipping.
And as the old house,
Came vaguely in sight,
We would all run,
And shout with delight.
The chimney, the porch,
The sunsets great light,
I wish I could go back,
If just for a night.
But time moves us on,
The family has scattered,
The house is no more,
It's the memories that matter.
That old House I saw,
Was such a sweet reminder,
But only of beauty,
In the mind of the finder.
- "The House" by Lillian Robinson Gordy
There is a place that only exists in my memory. Much like the words of the poem above (written by my precious grandmother), I catch myself being bitter sweetly reminded of it now and then. I remember the smell. I can't describe it, but I can remember it strongly. I remember the colors and decor. I remember the old piano- and somehow she never told us to stop playing with it...she encouraged us to figure out our talents.
I remember being sent out to the garden ( I need to stress that this wasn't a small raised bed garden- this was a large scale operation!!) with buckets to harvest all the veggies. My favorite was picking the strawberries! I remember once my cousin Abby and I had been sent out to pick tomatoes and we stole the salt shaker to nibble on tomatoes while we picked them! We were probably around 7-8 years old. I loved visiting because there were always cousins to play with. Always cousins.
I was having a late night talk with my mom and aunt a few weeks ago. I was telling them that if I could go back in time, I would go back to the Old House with my camera in hand. I know exactly what I would shoot and exactly how I would shoot it. I would take pictures of that old. worn piano. I can hear my Mawmaw now, playing and learning hymns by ear, her sweet voice humming the melody. I would take pictures of my Mawmaw at the stove...there seemed to always be something simmering. I would stand on the far right hand side of the kitchen and take a picture of the farmhouse kitchen table, hopefully with my family around it. I would photograph my PawPaw in the garden with his bucket harvesting the vegetables he grew from seed. I can picture his collared shirt (always tucked in), finished off with a belt and a hat. I would photograph the old table on the back porch, us kids used to sit at for meals. If this was a perfect dream-come-reality and I could choose the day to go back, I'd go back on a Sunday. Maybe even Easter Sunday. After church, after my PawPaw preached. Cars would be parked up and down the street as we all gathered for supper and an egg hunt. All 7 sets of aunts and uncles (8 if you include my mom and dad), all of their kids. Like I said, always cousins. I'd be sure to photograph the front porch and the view of the garden down the hill from the house.
The only 2 bedrooms in the house were joined at the closet by a "secret door" in the back of the closet. That door held the ultimate mystery to me and I could only imagine what was in there! (Spoiler alert, I found out as a pre-teen, and it was just clothes- but as a child, it was surely the entrance to Narnia) I'd photograph it, with the door closed to represent all the mystery it held for me as a child.
But as fate and time would have it, I'm 33 now and all I have left are my memories and a few snapshots shared on social media. If I would've known then what I know now, right? If I could only go back and photograph it the way I remember it, so my kids would know. So I could share part of their legacy in that way...
But I know now and I can do it now.
In my own home right here in Chesapeake. In your home.
Sometimes clients tell me that they don't have a great home. It's a rental. It's not "theirs". It's small. It's cramped. It's not their forever home.
Friends, if we waited for perfection in our lives, it would never happen. I need you to hear this: home is where you spend your time. It's a state of mind. It doesn't need to be perfect- nothing in life is. Your life is happening RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW.
The house that I'm gushing about? Two bedrooms. One, very small bathroom. Did you read how many aunts and uncles and cousins I have? On the outside, it's nothing special. It's the memories I made in it that make it wonderful. It's the people that lived there. It's the spirit of the home I want to photograph.
In 15-20 years, I don't want you wishing you had pictures of this season of your life. I want you to have them. I want you to be able to pull them out and look at them and feel comforted, to feel connection, to feel something in your heart.
If you're local to Hampton Roads and you're ready to schedule your session with me, click here or on the contact tab above. I'm happy to sit and talk with you and plan your storytelling session.
Rachel's story is one a lot of us can relate to, yet unique to their own family. She and her husband both work from home. They've settled into a comfortable routine, the kind that comes with doing life together for years...the kind that can be comfortable in silence and in chaos. Their life together has been built on triumph and tragedy, love and loss.
Though the home they are in is a temporary one, it's home for now. They have each other and that's home enough. The feeling of "home" is all encompassing the second you walk through their door.
Their beautiful, yet ordinary, mornings consist of Daddy getting up first and fixing breakfast for the children. Promptly at 7:30am, the girls are sent to wake up Mommy. I arrived just in time to see them jumping on the bed and snuggling in for morning cuddles. Then, the familiar routine of divide and conquer begins. Daddy brushing teeth assembly line style, while Mommy dresses and brushes hair. A quick goodbye as Daddy takes the girls to school.
And then, there were two.
Mommy and Little get quiet time together to snuggle, read, and fill up Little's heart with love and quality time before Mommy settles in for work.
I asked Rachel about her work and what it means to her to be able to work from home and share in these moments with her girls. She says, "I have shared my passion and educated my community on Young Living Essential Oils for the past 5 years and I've made a full time career out of it. We're [my husband and I] both extremely entrepreneurial minded and have been happiest working at home for ourselves! As far as motherhood, I've been super intentional with my time. I have set time blocks for work and set time blocks for family. Of course it can vary day to day which is the beauty of working from home."
Intentional. I like that a lot. Being intentional with our time, our relationships, and our commitments.
To say that I enjoyed photographing and working with their family would be an understatement. They welcomed me into their home as if I were an old family friend, greeted at the door on a cold, crisp fall morning with a warm hug and offers of hot coffee- by strangers no less. I was thrown directly into their morning routine and I was rewarded with real life goodness and given the freedom to document their truth...even down to brushing teeth and struggling to put tights on wiggly little girls. Being given that freedom and that trust is an honor.
I think being in front of the camera can do one of two things: it can make you self-conscious and "camera aware" (as we call it in the documentary community) or you can embrace it in an authentic and organic way. They embraced it and in turn, they truly have images that document this season of their life. They will be able to look back at this unscripted morning and see the real, honest love an ordinary morning brings.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.