Love of family courses strongly through your veins when your sister, living over 3,800 miles away in France, surprises you with a family portrait package to celebrate your 40th birthday! Sarah knew she wanted a gift that would bring regular smiles to her sorely missed sister Anna. She wanted a gift that would honor what Anna holds most dear—her family.
Anna and Sarah’s relationship is a testament to the bond sisters can share that even separate continents cannot diminish. They skype each other weekly. At their most recent skype date they cracked each other up when they found they had the same haircut and were wearing practically the same shirt. What I found uncanny is how French Anna’s look is! She has that sleek polished look and mannerism so typical of French women. It’s like Sarah is sending her that cool French vibe!
I spoke with Anna to coordinate her session time and she shared a few of her recent favorite family photos. She let me know how much she loved a vintagy feel to her photos which really helped as I designed her gallery.
Sarah e-mailed me the day of the session with such mixed emotions they were almost tangible across the Atlantic. Conflicting happy/sadness flooded her. More than anything she wished she could be in my place, but since she couldn’t, she has eagerly been awaiting the final images over the last two weeks.
The day of our session I was welcomed to a gorgeous home that Paul built for Anna and their family. The Ferguson home is full of the warmth and activity a family with three boys tends to generate when it’s at its best. This house was clearly a labor of love, from the little details to the hand selected antique center support beam, which goes through every level of the house. Their youngest son Samuel is inspecting this photo of the earliest phase of construction that’s proudly displayed in their home.
Anna commissioned a local artist, Thomas Sterner for the creation of this piece, which hangs in their home. It has their home engraved on the outside and each member of their family represented on the inside ---Dad is life, Mom is air, Jack is earth, Charlie is water and Samuel (who no one knew Anna was pregnant with at the time!) is the sun on Anna's belly.
I learned the story of this piece when Anna’s oldest son Jack walked me around pointing out things that were most important to him in their home. Anna’s boys were such gentlemen, offering to help carry my equipment and offering me drinks. As a mom to 3 boys I love to see little gentlemen!
This simple portrait was a cool moment, Jack tousled his hair in a mannerism so all boy I started laughing! Then I said, "I'm ok with it but we need to check with mom. She might want it smoothed back down." Mom said, "I love it just how it is!" You go girl!
Those eyes are going to break many hearts Charlie!
As we walked their scenic property, Samuel’s dog Juliette raced in and out of the scenes I was photographing, just like Samuel did! I’ll never forget someone telling me, ‘dogs and toddlers have a lot in common--- the whole world around them is intriguing and they don’t stay in one spot for more than a few seconds! Keep your conversation short and sweet with them!’ I always remembered this when raising my 3 toddlers simultaneously and photographing them!
This is the beauty of life style photography---we aren’t placing a family in a stressful, boxed static scene in an effort to show the world something that doesn’t really exist. Instead, we C A P T U R E the real deal! Family being family! As I photograph I will never spend more than a just a few minutes attempting to get the ‘everyone look here and smile image’---I’m convinced those photos are why so many people hate having their picture taken! (not to mention they are boring/frustrating for everyone involved! I try to keep this process as active and as painless as possible!) I have turned down work from potential clients when this is the style of recording they would like for their family. I’m just about the worst person for that job and need to stay true to what drew me to photography in the first place!
As we walked the grounds, the boys pointed out their last dog, Taos’s grave to me and it was clear Taos is still sorely missed by the Ferguson’s. Juliette is a good dog…but she’s no Taos.
As a couple married for only 3 years Anna and Paul decided to do the unthinkable---live on separate continents for 9 months! They bucked predictability and status quo, rented out their home and took off across the world! Anna went to help Sarah who was in a pinch for a nanny in France and Paul to live out a life long dream of kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and mountain climbing while he worked and lived with a friend in New Mexico.
During this 9 months they only saw each other one time! Consider what the most romantic time and place would be. New Years Eve in Paris! (can’t you just see this being a Hallmark movie!! Makes me want to snuggle up on a cold winter night with a cappuccino and watch this played out on a screen before me! (probably while editing)
When the 9 months was over Anna met up with Paul in New Mexico and they took 6 weeks to drive through the country to soak in the beauty that busyness often blinds us to. I’m convinced an unrushed schedule allows the grandest moments of our lives that forever shape who we are. Grabbing unrushed time is like holding a greased pig though--- it requires concerted efforts to wrangle and there will be much resistance in the process! But the pay off keeps us coming back for more!
Anna and Paul reconnected as a couple during this 6-week journey back towards home. When they arrived home they got their first dog, Taos, named after the town in NM where Paul had lived out his grand adventure. You can see why Taos is so sorely missed! :(
The family laughed as they told me the story of a new vet they saw one day who called Taos “Tacos” by mistake. Even Samuel, only 2 was very familiar with the story and tried his best to repeat it in 2-year old speak. LOVED this---stories unite our families and bonding happens when we laugh together! I knew Samuel was done telling his version when he clearly said “Tacos” and cracked himself up with belly laughs!
Taos was a constant reminder to Paul and Anna of their grand adventure and all they learned through that time in their lives. They learned their love could not only withstand a separation but also thrive throughout it! They have watched that love give birth to three beautiful boys and a life that bears recording to be shared with future generations of this dear family! May everyone have their Taos through this life to point them back to a grand adventure!
Fergusons as I'd impressionistically paint them on their grand adventure...