Any time I get to spend with the Brandt family, I jump at the chance. They’re warm, open, playful, funny, and generous. So, when I had the opportunity to capture some of mom, Amber’s, extended family last month, I forgot I was supposed to be taking the month off and said YES!
I had met Amber’s parents a couple of times before but this was the first time I got to hang with her brother and his beautiful family. We met up at a small park in Folsom, did some of the “everyone get in the photo and smile” shots but then indulged my need for something more playful by playing games like red-light-green-light, a family chicken-dance, a group march, and finally some time on the swings. I know the group shots are what they came for, but I hope that in years to come they’ll be just as thankful for the candid photos of them having fun and being playful together.
I’ll admit that I generally am not a fan of shooting extended family sessions because it often turns into an entire session of wedding group shots that ends up being not a lot of fun for everyone. But since I know and have worked with the Brandt family many times, and knew they knew what to expect from me and how I roll in my sessions, I knew it wouldn’t be anything like that painful experience. If you’d love to get your extended family together and want something more than just the group shots, some memories of you laughing and playing and having fun together, then absolutely call me. I’m down!
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”―Haruki Murakami
I completed the second year of my photo-a-day project on December 31st, 2017. When I started documenting my days on Jan 1, 2016, I never thought I’d make it through a year, let alone two. And, for sure, this year I almost gave up many times.
It was a really tough year. The toughest. On many days, I felt like a little rowboat caught out on the ocean in the perfect storm. I have never felt so adrift, so at-sea, in so many areas of my life at once. It brought me to my knees. It was energy-sucking, confidence draining, emotional nudity. It was humbling. I questioned everything, including myself, and I’m still not sure that I’m standing on solid ground yet. Have you ever got off of a boat after a long, rough voyage? For a while after you step on land, you find yourself still internally swaying, not sure if it’s the ground beneath you moving, or if your equilibrium hasn’t yet caught up to the fact that you’re finally off the boat. That’s how it feels right now. Shaky. Uncertain. But also a bit of a relief.
Looking back on these images was hard and helpful. Hard because it’s like I began the year in one life and left it in another. Helpful because I realized that, along the way, there were many moments I wouldn’t want to write-off.
And that’s why I’m going to continue in 2018. Who knows what the next 12 months will bring my way? Who knows what life I will be standing in on December 31st of this year? And who knows how grateful I will be for the reminder of the little moments along the way.
Maybe I can’t be with you every single day but I can document the flavor of your life in a documentary session. Trust me, every memory has its value, even the moments that don’t feel like they need memorializing at the time. Get in touch to learn more.
I love capturing the unique spirit of families. I love finding *that thing* that friends and family know about them and seeing that come through in the photos so that people who have never met them before suddenly “get” them in a new way. It not only makes me feel fulfilled in the contemporary moment, the satisfaction that my client has photos that represent the best parts of who they are, but also in the historical moment, thinking about how these images may be found someday by their grandchildren or distant descendants who learn a little more about how they are from seeing these expressions, gestures, and places.
The Fong family have been friends of mine for 14, almost 15 years. It seems almost unbelievable that this is true but it is. They are a family driven by faith and dedication to doing the right and loving thing. They are also goofy and silly and prone to crazy faces and eye rolling and incessant bunny ears. As I was editing these photos, I cried a little because I felt I saw the people I know and love coming through each image and sharing themselves with me. I felt like I captured *that thing*.
Of course, the moment was extra special because these are my friends, my extended family even, but I can’t deny that there is an element of this in every session I capture for a family. I know it’s not “about me”. It’s most definitely about them, my clients, their family, but there’s a reason I picked up a camera instead of a paintbrush or a violin… and this is it.
Now booking 2018
Newborns – Intimate Weddings – Headshots
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Oh man, this family. They are like family to me. I photographed them 4 years ago for the first time, just before dad, Bruce, took off on his last deployment to Afghanistan. Then, found myself in the delivery room with Amber, acting as Bruce’s eyes from thousands of miles away, as his second daughter Mia was born. That shared experience somehow created a bond between us that I am so thankful for and that goes so much deeper than photography.
These folks are funny, playful, loving, full of life, energy, and love. Being around them makes me happy. We had a blast, cruising along the Humbug-Willow Creek Trail in Folsom.
Now booking 2018 Newborn Packages
I’m taking a shooting break the month of December to spend more time with family but am looking for families who are expecting a new baby in the new year. I have awesome 3-session packages that capture baby’s first days and milestones as well as all the family love and joy that comes from welcoming a newborn.
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As much as I can’t imagine having four children of my own, I love photographing larger families. There are so many dynamics to capture, so much kid-like energy flowing through every moment. Often, we grown-ups lessen the joy in a session because we’re working so hard for perfect, for best behavior, for not messing up our Sunday best clothes. We stifle the moments of best connection when we’re worried about these things. When the moments between more directed shots are full of admonishments in preparation for the next shot, we miss something vital about who we are as a family, beyond the photo-ready smiles.
In larger families, I find there tends to be a certain surrender to the moment. Outnumbered and with life bringing you to the hard realization that you can’t control everything all the time, a certain freedom emerges. Not to let kids misbehave or be obnoxious necessarily but to stop controlling the moment to defend against the possibility. To let kids run and roam and climb and… be kids. Somewhere in this surrender, this liberty, I see the grown-ups relax too. I see honest smiles, I see real connection, I see the fabric of a family woven in front of my eyes and through the images they capture.
Thank you to the Patterson family for reminding me of how good that can be.