I have been photographing the Rogers family since their son, Nicholas, was born 6 years ago. Mom, Sara, and I calculated during our recent session that we have had probably more than 10 photo shoots together since then!
Arriving at their beautiful Craftsman home in East Sacramento, I see my photos on every wall. As a photographer in a mostly-digital world, I can’t tell you how satisfying that is, to see your photos printed and hung, to know that the moments you captured are seen and enjoyed by the family every day. I am definitely a digital file hoarder myself (my eleventy terabytes of storage give me away, so there’s no point in lying) so I get why folks want to know they have that file. But there’s nothing that replaces the images on the wall where you pass by them in the morning, sleep in your eyes, or during the day with a laundry basket cradled in your arms. You can’t get that from a digital image that you have to sit down at a computer and purposefully open and then stare at. Does anyone actually do that?
Our session this January started at their home, where I got to meet Sara’s dad (aka: Grandpa) and spend a little time capturing him with Nicholas. Then Sara, Jeremy, Nicholas, and I all took a walk through their awesome little neighborhood and stopped at some alleys with cool murals and rusted, corrugated metal walls.
I loved the combination of capturing them getting ready to head out the door, some portraits, and some more documentary-style shots of them on their walk. I talk a lot about how my sessions can be a little bit of everything if you’re willing to play along with me and Sara and Jeremy are a great example of a family who are always willing to do that. The result is that they get their family-together shots, their portraits, but also the moments that otherwise get lost on the cutting room floor, the ones that remind us in 20 years of what it was like to be us at that moment in time.
Family sessions don’t only have to take place in Fall
“The great thing about real life is that it belongs to you. You can make it up as you go along!” ― Victoria Ashton
Sham of the Perfect is a collaborative photography project made up of an international collection of photographers who are passionate about both family documentary photography and being parents. The project’s name is inspired by the poem A Spring Issue, by Sarah Dunning Park. Our intent is to tear down the sham of perfection shown in more idyllic work and present life, parenthood, families, childhood, and home as it actually is; full of flaws and full of beauty simultaneously.
2019 will be my 5th year contributing to this project. Here are my photos from 2018, mapping our year in weekly images.
Want to document your real life moments?
I may not be able to follow you around all day every day, but I do offer Day In The Life sessions, helping you to capture the small but important moments with your family. Click here to get in touch and learn more.
You may remember the Keane family from my day in the life session with them back in 2014. Well, since then they have grown by one and just welcomed baby Ivy to their family. So I was lucky enough to be invited down by Leslie and Justin to catch-up the family album with some shots of them hanging out around their beautiful home in Diablo.
One of the wonderful things that Leslie told me when she got back in touch was how much the value of the photos I took for her a few years ago have grown over time. How the little things that her kids did, expressions, games, toys they played with, have changed so much in that time and that those photos we captured, take her back to those little details that might otherwise be lost in time.
Love this family, their laid-back vibe, kids full of personality, and now their love for their beautiful Ivy.
Expecting a baby in 2018?
I’m booking welcome home baby sessions for 2018 now. These sessions are a different take on your typical newborn session, focusing not just on the cute chubby cheeks of baby but also their new place in the family, the love that is showered on them, and how your family dynamic changes. Sessions are held at home, are relaxed, natural, fun, and – as Leslie said – something that will grow in value over time.
The last time I saw Nora she was this big. Now she is a year old, fearless, curious, and taking on Fairytale Town in Sacramento like a BOSS. Zooming down slides with kids 4x her age and taking one of my dearest friends, her grandma, along for the ride, it was so fun to follow Nora and her peeps around the park.
I love getting grandparents in the picture; we don’t do it often enough. When was the last time you captured the special relationship your kids have with their grandma and grandpa? Get in touch and let’s talk about a session with them together.
Last month, I went to London. On my own. No husband, no kid, no friend, no relative, and no schedule. I had only one mission: to avoid the typical tourist traps and experience London as I know it and remember it, in all its gritty, pulsating, multi-cultural glory. And, to follow my curiosity wherever that led me.
Where better to do that than in London’s iconic markets? Where tacky and trendy meet antique and boutique, where people-watching is an unavoidable pleasure, and each neighborhood offers-up its own quintessential experience.
I walked 50 miles in 4 days, carried blister plasters in my bag, and realized (painfully) just how little I walk in the U.S.
DAY ONE: Camden High Street and Camden Lock Market
Camden is an assault on all the senses. It’s a street that moves to the beat of the dance music blaring from the gaudily-adorned shop facades that reminded me of a slightly-twisted, Through the Looking Glass version of Main Street, Disneyland.
And then, just as quickly, it’s a serene canal framed by weeping willows, crossed by quaint bridges, and with views of transitioning barges, then a skyline of cranes and office buildings when you turn another.
It’s a street-food trip around the world with Korean, Brazillian, Columbian, German, Italian, French, Middle-Eastern, American (“Southern Fried Mother Clucker”), Indian, and a whole host of creative mixtures (think Korean Burritos) jostling for your stomach’s attention, beside the British staples of Fish & Chips and Pie and Mash.
This was my delicious lunch, served from a little stall beside the lock where you can watch them chop the fresh ingredients: a 3-curry combo with lamb and aubergine, spinach and chickpea curry, plus Dal, garnished with fresh mint, a dollop of yogurt, and a sweet chutney. All for just seven pounds.
It’s an indoor-outdoor market that never seems to end, winding in and out of buildings and alleyways and under brick eves that create a network of connected, mini neighborhoods each with their own personality; offerings alternating between vintage clothes, Union-Jack magnets, and modern art. There’s Alice Cooper blaring from a vintage record stall and, two-stalls down, Bob Marley jammin’ in a store merchandised from wall-to-wall with the reds, greens, yellows, and blacks of his home country.
In short: it’s not for people who don’t like lots of people or constant stimulation. In case you were wondering, I am not one of those people. I was buzzing with energy by the time I walked back to the tube station.
INFO FOR PHOTOGRAPHY BUFFS | Shot on a FujiFilm XT-1 with a 23mm 1.4 lens
“Josh and I decided to throw together a wedding in a little less than two weeks. Kind of nuts, but kind of awesome. 15ish people, ceremony down by the river in Carmichael area, then dinner somewhere TBD. It’s going to be a beautiful hot mess, and I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else who could capture that like you.”
That was the email I got from Claire at the beginning of July. With an email like that, how can you say no? I certainly can’t.
I love small, intimate weddings, spontaneity, and these two humans. I photographed them about a year ago (see that session here) in what is, to-date, one of my craziest, funnest, dirtiest sessions EVER. If there was ever a family that embodied my mantra of “Live the moment. The dishes can wait.” it’s these folks.
We began the afternoon and Claire and Josh’s beautiful, new Carmichael home, where Claire and her family were getting ready. Meanwhile, Josh and his best friend were already down at the river fishing. The river is special to Josh, especially around the Carmichael area where he grew up and his family still lives. It was a bachelor party of sorts, ending at his truck in the Effie Yeaw Nature Center parking lot where he used his wing mirrors to tie his tie and brush his hair.
We walked down a dusty trail to an opening in the brush where the river flowed before us, just beyond a beach of river rock. And that’s where we waited for Claire and the rest of the wedding guests, who carefully tip-toed over the rocks to the arbor at the river’s edge. That’s where, in the blazing full sun, under an incredibly blue sky, and watched by a gaggle of Canadian Geese, Josh and Claire said their I dos.
It wasn’t anything like a hot mess, as it turns out. It was spontaneous and beautiful and simple and… just perfect.
We closed the evening at Fair Oaks Brew Pub in the village of Fair Oaks, where everyone sat on wooden picnic tables and listened to a local band play while they ate pretzels and burgers and drank beer, this time overlooked by the resident Fair Oaks chickens.
I loved every minute of this evening. Congratulations Claire and Josh. I am so incredibly thankful you chose me to capture the beginning of the rest of your life together.
If you know someone who is planning an intimate wedding, a second-time-around marriage, or even an elopement, please have them get in touch with me. I love photographing these events and, unlike wedding photographers focused on booking full-day wedding packages, I offer a la carte pricing starting with just 2 hours of photography coverage. Forward this post to them or connect them to my wedding portfolio, here.
I'm Michelle and I love vampires (before they were cool), peanut butter and that deliciously off-balance feeling you get when you step off a plane in a new country. I'm also a mum, a writer and a visual storyteller.
Click here to learn more about all that.
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