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.
Recently, on my Instagram Story (find me on Insta here), I posted a poll that asked "Have you ever included grandparents in your family photo sessions?" The overwhelming majority of the followers who answered were said they did not include grandparents in family photo sessions.
When I have a family inquire about a session, I always ask who all will be in the session and also if they planned on including grandparents. Some do, some don't. Some have grandparents swing by halfway through their session. I'll always encourage documenting these relationships and connections. They are truly special and one of a kind. Our kids are lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents and even surrogate grandparents who love them fiercely.
Having multi-generational pictures of your family is not something you will regret. It's highly likely that one day you will regret not having professional portraits of them (this is true for even me!). These pictures serve as a vessel for stories. For memories. For smiles and laughter. I've said it a million times in past blogs, but I will say it here again. These pictures aren't just for you. These pictures are for the generations who come after you. These pictures will tell of your legacy long after you are gone.
Read that underlined bit again. That's some powerful stuff.
Even better, schedule your session with grandparents in the comfort of your own home and reap all the benefits of being in your cozy home and having everyone in a safe space to truly be themselves. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for a wonderful session! Read reasons about why to schedule sessions in your home here.
And what about if grandparents are not local? I can't think of a more important reason to document their relationship than that alone.
I am so in love with this picture of my son and my mother in law. I love the tender touch of her on his shoulder and I wonder what they were talking about. It's not often that they get to spend one on one time together, but I was happy to sneak this photo in. I wouldn't dare disturb the moment and ask them to turn around. This is a perfect portrait of them. My hope is that with it being a wider angle shot and not a close up, years from now it will spark a discussion..."Remember when we went here?" "Oh yeah! I remember! Sissy was sick that day. And we got ice cream!" I guarantee that some of your favorite childhood memories involve your grandparents, don't they? I know mine do.
I would give an arm and a leg to have someone take pictures of me and my grandpa skipping class and meeting at a local hamburger joint for lunch back when I was in high school. Those are some of my most precious memories. Sitting with him at the lunch counter and just chatting about nothing in particular. He'd always ask me, "Hey, aren't you supposed to be in school?" And I'd just laugh and ask him how his slaw dog was.
I encourage you to consider including other members of the family into your sessions, not just grandparents. You never know when the last opportunity you will have to include them will be. Life is short and bittersweet. It's full of overwhelming joy and devastating grief- it's all just part of the adventure of life. Think about all of the relationships you have that impact your day to day life. Your tribe. Your village. These are precious people you love and trust. They are characters in your story.
If you are interested in scheduling a storytelling session with me and documenting these immensely important relationships, just click on the Contact tab above or click here. Let's preserve these memories and these relationships. And here's a bonus reason to schedule- beautiful printed portraits make the BEST gifts for any occasion and I bet it will bring a sweet tear to their eye.
This past Sunday, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the 2019 Clickin' Walk which is a photo walk orchestrated by Clickin' Moms and hosted in cities by local photographers. It's a chance for photographers of all skill levels to get together, take in the sights of your city, meet new people, get some great shots, and have a lot of fun! In our little group of about 10-15 we had every skill level represented from beginner to pro.
Our hosts (shout out to Chelsea and Camille!) chose for us to venture to the Oceanfront to explore the Vibe District of Virginia Beach. Being a local to Hampton Roads and having lived in both Virginia Beach and Chesapeake- plus driving all over and everywhere in between- I feel pretty comfortable with the 7 cities. I'm navigationally challenged (seriously), but I feel like I know our area pretty well. I've driven through the vibe district and I know the local businesses there. However, walking through with my camera in hand and zero other distractions allowed me to really see the district. I could take in the intricate details of the art murals on the walls, I could see the craftsmanship and the unique touches of the shops and cafes we passed. I could stop and admire how even the crosswalks were painted in joyful, bright works of art.
And beyond all that, do you know what's even more awesome? The group of women there were absolutely amazing. They were kind, supportive, funny, beautiful, and inspiring. We were there as a community, not to compete. And the end result was just amazing.
I have to say this though: Do you remember that blog I wrote a few weeks back on things that I wish I did more often? (if not, you can read it here!) I worked on my #1 Thing I Wish I Did More Often really hard at the walk! Spoiler alert: #1 is " I Wish I Took Pictures of Strangers More Often". I mentioned that I had a soul-crushing anxiety of walking up to complete strangers and asking to take their pictures. Well, ya girl did it. Several times in fact. Granted, I didn't get up close and in their face with it (baby steps...) but I still did it and I'm incredibly proud of myself. Growth, this is me- growing. I think a lot of my confidence in this area came from the fact that I was surrounded by a bunch of super sweet and talented women, but still- growth.
I invited two of my friends to come along with me that are hobbyist photographers. One enjoys shooting people, the other enjoys shooting scenes and details. I'm super awkward in front of the camera, but the walk gave me an opportunity to jump in and have my picture taken (for the sake of learning, of course) and you know what? It wasn't so bad. I kind of had fun (barefoot, naturally-what's a hippie like me supposed to do? Wear shoes?). Actually, my daughter was so excited to see pictures of me, she asked me to print them out for her! Excuse me while I go cry over her sweet heart.
Okay, real talk. The first like, 20 pictures of me were awkward and I wanted to crawl into my skin, but after that it wasn't bad at all. And the best part about it is, I'm so glad I did it. Truly.
Below are a few of my favorites from our walk. Comment which is your favorite or feel free to share your thoughts!
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.