the beaman family invited me into their home in jackson hole, wyoming to document their summertime in this beautiful current chapter of life for their family. they all planned to meet in jackson hole at the river house and i would meet them there as well… the place where they all gathered each year for summertime and Christmastime and to pack in as many memories as possible in the short time they were all together. the barn out in the flower pasture was brought to the property all the way from virginia and put back together out there in the perfect spot. as their daughters flew in, each from a different school, i got to spend a magical afternoon beforehand with a good man and his boy and their dog, their favorite thing to do together. i got to stand back and soak in all in, a true postcard of scenery before my eyes with the snow peaked Grand Teton Mountains in the background! the next morning as everyone trickled in, i sat at their breakfast table and listened to stories from years past and crazy summer adventures along the water's edge in that house. i had fresh pancakes made by mama with extra butter to the sounds of laughter. the boys were out kayaking, the ladies knitted and then played volleyball out in the yard (they were competitive, it was awesome) and i had the honor of photographing the rest of their day in the sunshine. i loved the whole experience of this. the gathering. the time set aside with intention to love and savor. and then the documentation of memory making where the whole family can be themselves, doing the things each of them hopes the children remember most when they are grown. i am so looking forward to photographing more of these family reunion weekend gatherings in my harvest sessions this coming year.
* Themed Sessions
the vows... lucas to jayme: "if i could rewind time right now and look back a little over six years, i come to a moment where i told the universe that i was ready. ready for the one. the woman i would spend the rest of my life with. the response was swift and you walked right into my life. it was less than a year later and we stood together in a circle not much different than this and declared our love for commitment to each other for the rest of our days. today i've come to realize that in five short years, i have lived more with you than in all of the years before combined. i never knew true love until the moment i met you. i stand here in that circle again today to renew these eternal vows to you. jayme, i'll always love you and encourage you. i'll forever stand strong by your side, through the best times and the hardest. i'll laugh with you and comfort you, i'll cherish every moment we share together until my very last breath. so you be the icing and i'll be the cake, you be the sweet and i'll be the savory. you be you and i'll be me and i'll see you right back here in another five years. and another. and another."
jayme to lucas: "a love like ours happens once in a lifetime. in you i found not only a partner, but my true best friend. you are the one who was everything i had ever hoped for and then some. you are a part of everything i think and do and feel. you have found yourself quite a cozy spot inside my heart… which, by the way, locks from the outside so looks like you're stuck there. you love me most during my worst. through hardships and tests from the universe, you never falter by my side. you are my strength and my support system and i am incredibly grateful for your love. here's to all the places we've been and here's to all the places we'll go. and here's to me whispering again and again and again… i love you so."
they traveled here from alberta, canada for the celebration. the two of them, their three boys, and their immediate family. they made it into a vacation and spent three days together (not far from our homestead) in a mountain log cabin just below mount baker, cooking and laughing and soaking it all in. their only agenda was to be present in that moment and not worry about the fancy details. they experienced some heavy years followed by so much healing in their marriage. they wanted to celebrate the rebirth of hope between them and to marry one another again beneath a willow tree, just as her parents had done. jayme wore her mom's wedding dress, and her mama and grandma were there to help her put it on. they made her bouquet with dahlias picked from a roadside flower stand. and his boutonniere was made from wildflowers and lavender from our garden along with a lego perfectly placed by jensen. jayme's brother played the guitar for the ceremony and we had made sure to give our willow tree by the pond a lovely new knitted sweater for the occasion. the boys all devoured the wedding cake at the end and there was plenty of laughter and hugging beneath that tree. we adventured through the woods and the maple leaves were just beginning to fall, and the wet, calming weather just added to the soulfulness of the day. that is what i love most about these images. the intimacy. i was able to be with them for an entire day start to finish. i tried to narrow down my favorites but i still ended up with almost 200 (out of the final 1400 images, whoa), so i just went ahead and put my favorites into a little video. enjoy.
the glasbys are the best friends we never met until we were grown ups. it's a rare thing to meet a friend that just feels like home. that's what heather (the mama) is to me. and when we found out that our husbands and kids felt the same way about each other, well that's pretty much one of the most precious gifts in life. in a season that felt often lonely and foreign to us after just moving up here to washington, the glasbys forced us into laughing and dance parties and hearty conversation and i was also blessed to witness the birth of their baby girl. this family is so dear to us. they are pretty much the most fun and thoughtful folks you'll ever meet and i hope they never find out that we aren't nearly as cool as they are. ;) i photographed their session here at our home while our apple trees were full of blossoms at the end of april and the meadow thick with dandelions (heather's favorite "flower"). they brought their canoe, whom they named sir grizwald, to the pond and they just had a happy little springtime day. *be sure to scroll down to the very bottom to see my newest little assistant here at my homestead sessions! ;)
this was a fun one!!! so, i'd been daydreaming of using this outdoor tub for a session since the moment we moved into our house. it's open air beside the house not too far from our chicken coop but enclosed on three sides for privacy and when it rains the sounds on the roof above and the warm tub water pretty much feels like a slice of heaven. well, wouldn't you know it that the day i had planned to do this family session as part of my workshop i was teaching here that it decided to be dark and stormy. we got a few tiny breaks in the rain but this turned out to be a pretty fun alternative to a full outdoor session (you can see a little farther down below that we did go outside for a few minutes). this big happy family, the walkers, were so joyful and fun and the kids couldn't have been happier to have a bubble bath party in their winter jammies and the chickens of course had to take part in the country fun too! mama was such a good sport about being tackled in that tiny tub (in addition to a chicken flying onto her head... oh the kids loved that!), everyone couldn't stop giggling and they all wished they could have stayed in there for hours. so much fun!
well, this is an instant favorite session of mine. we've been reading the chronicles of narnia as a family nightly for the last few months and i have fallen so in love with c.s. lewis and these spectacular stories! so when i was talking with maegan (the mama) in preparation for her family's upcoming session, and she told me how much they loved the stories too and read them together (as well as had costumes of the characters), i was filled with ideas and giddiness. the words of c.s. lewis have such a beautiful depth that reach far deeper than any average story; "... the deepest, wildest voice they had ever heard was saying: 'narnia, narnia, narnia, awake! love. think. speak. be walking trees. be talking beasts. be divine waters.' it was of course the lion's voice." - C.S. Lewis
oh those words.
i continued to learn about the keaton family... that they love nature, adventuring and building. my mind instantly went to them building Cair Paravel! we happened to have a lot of boxes left from our move and i picked up a few more and went to work painting them. the keaton family crafted a patchwork flag at home and they took my castle idea to the next level by picking up giant cardboard cylinders and painted those to be the spires. it all fell together perfectly, especially because the keaton children were so very excited to get to build something that was so close to their hearts with their mom and dad involved in the play. each took on their own character in it's creation! peter, susan, lucy and tumnus were all yelling "narniaaaaaaa!" and galloping and laughing and working together which made the photo session feel incredibly magical and special.
this was the first session i photographed here at our new homestead which was a treat in itself, but it also happened to be the warmest and most sun-filled day that we've had this entire washington winter. oh, the glorious orange sun... bliss!
we began beneath the willow tree... let the building begin! he was so deeply in character. i love these. while mama was taping the center of the castle together, her hubby saw it happening and said "well of course, she is the one that holds the whole house together." i almost cried. they all yelled, "NAAAARRRNNIIIAAAAAAAAAA!!!"
it seemed appropriate to post this session today, on valentine's day, as it revolves around one very beautiful love letter written by dan for his wife, alissa. he wrote:
dear lis, i love you. i don't know if i say that enough. you are the most driven, selfless, caring, creative, funny, beautiful, and honest person i've ever met. you make me want to be a better person. before i met you i was lost. and over the last ten years you have shown me a world of love i didn't know was possible. thank you for loving me. i hope i can make you feel as special as you have made me feel. i love you. dan.
alissa and dan are married. i typically photograph engaged couples as they usually have more of an "excuse" for a photoshoot. they are usually giddy and there is always an expectant and somewhat naive sweetness about them that is contagious. but there is something about photographing a married couple that has such intentional depth. that they are continuing to choose one another every day. it is deep and raw and soul stirring. they are taking the time to really see one another instead of just existing. through the work of marriage, after the trials and pain of everyday life, even when things may not be perfect and pretty. this kind of love is what honest photography is all about.
alissa and i talked a while in preparing for the session and she told me that one thing dan was known to do was leave little notes around their house in random places with reminders of his love for her. in cabinets, on the bathroom mirror, on doors. always unexpected with simple, honest, grateful and beautiful truths to encourage and warm her heart. "i love how your eyes light up when you smile" "i love our life together" "i love that you take care of me and care about my happiness. thank you for also taking care of things around the house, i love you!" what a gift those little words are to a wife's soul! i happened to be photographed these two in tennessee at moonshine hill during my workshop in december, and knowing that i wouldn't arrive into town until just before the shoot i enlisted elizabeth at stockroom vintage in nashville to help me out with styling this session in advance to make it truly special for dan and alissa's story. she got in touch with dan and he wrote a beautiful secret letter for alissa that elizabeth then wrote in lovely script onto a giant fabric canvas that they could also keep after the photo shoot was over. she styled the most elegant and lovely session at the treehouse (outside and inside of it!) there on the grounds of moonshine hill, all based around this love letter theme and it was all a surprise for alissa when she arrived! we began the session at the treehouse and then worked our way around the property.
i love styled sessions but the simplicity of alissa wrapped up in that letter down in the stream in the middle of the woods just floors me. those have to be some of my most favorite photographs i have ever taken (they are closer to the bottom in this set of images). alissa is a friend of mine and while anyone can see that she is so very beautiful, she is also a bit timid and would never think that of herself. but i saw her come alive beside dan as he told her how beautiful she was. i saw her believe it. his words truly nourished her soul and to witness that was nothing short of a privilege.