If you haven't followed the saga of Theo, you'll want to click here to time travel a little bit. And if you don't want to do that, here's the summary.
Bri and I first met when we were both attending Northern Arizona University and we took an art class with our mutual friend.
About five years later, after I moved from San Diego back to Arizona, Bri hired me to take photos with her partner and their son.
Flash forward again about two years, right when I decided to take my photography business full-time, Bri was my first booked client after resigning from my previous job as a digital marketing specialist.
Bri, Christian and their son, Theo, have such a special place in my heart and in the timeline of my business's growth. When they booked their most recent family photos with me, it was a breath of fresh air again. I recently came to the decision to move away from family photos and to shift my focus more toward couples and boudoir photography (you can read more about that decision here). I admit I was feeling a little defeated with family sessions leading up to theirs. Not to mention, we're still under about two feet of snow after a big snowstorm last month so predicting how some of my favorite outdoor locations function is complicated!
Anyway I pulled up to our location and was put at ease instantly. There's something about this family that brings calm energy and pure joy. It's like being home. We started wondering into the snowy, wooded location and even though we were uncomfortably cold and awkwardly navigating the elements, we made memories.
In the six months or leading up to this session, I found family sessions leaving me more and more drained. Unfortunately, I feel like a majority of family sessions have a lot of stress tacked on. Sometimes it's because they're cramming to fit them into a busy season for holiday photos or struggling to make a time work with their extended family. Sometimes it's because the client expects everyone to look and act picture perfect, which results in scolding kiddos for not having patience during sessions, teens fighting, parents being passive aggressive-- as a recovering perfectionist, it's just not energy I enjoy being around. I'm getting somewhere with this.
If you've followed my business for a while, you know that I emphasize fun, go-with-the-flow, enjoying each others company and playfulness. This philosophy comes from this family. As you scroll through your gallery, you'll say to yourself, "there are so many photos." The minimum I promise clients is 30. This family got almost 100 back. Why? Because we were in it. You'll see us cleaning snow out of Theo's boots. You'll see how we threw snow so it sparkled like glitter. How we made snowballs, watched steam clouds form with our breath, warmed each others hands up by blowing into them. We posed a few times, but mostly we were curious. We played. We leaned into the discomfort and the magic of adverse weather. And as we hugged and said our goodbyes (for now), I walked to my car remembering why I loved family photos so much.
I told my fiance while I was editing these, "how incredible is it that they have these memories?". When Theo is 20, Bri + Christian will remember how the snow felt on their hands, they'll remember him howling as he sank into the snow. They'll remember his face when he tasted snow, the warmth of his breath as he learned to warm up hands with it, and when he told them how to pose for a few photos of just the two of them. They wouldn't have these moments if they worried about these photos being perfect.
Bri's family reminds me to laugh at imperfection and to remain calm when things are out of our control. They remind me to love and teach and learn from the people around me and the different environments we find ourselves in.
The difference between Bri and Christian and the families that have made me turn away from family photos is that when their son rolls around in the snow and decides to wander away from the camera and explore, she doesn't scold him or yell at him to come back. They go with him.