In all my years of doing photography I do not think I have ever enjoyed photographing a family more than the Dunhams. The first time I did their pictures it was through the school our kids attend and it was way back around 2012 or something. I’m not exactly sure of the year but I know I was taller than the boys and that is definitely not the case these days!
Not only do we laugh a lot at their sessions but I also love how the grandparents join us. This year only one grandmother could be there and they requested this special photo. It turned out pretty cute I think.
She’s such a tiny little thing, isn’t she?
Another photo that we did is one that we repeat every time we do pictures. It started the very first year and just became a tradition.
My goodness, how those cute little faces have grown into handsome young men! But the same sense of humor has carried through the years for sure.
They really are a precious family and I am already looking forward to the next time we do pictures.
I belong to a really great photography group on facebook that is centered around storytelling through images. Unlike other groups I am a part of I have never seen a picture that makes me scratch my head or gringe…it is full of really talented people. One of the features on their blog is an hour by hour photo challenge. That’s right. Forget about your 365 daily or your 52 weeks thingie. One photograph every single hour.
I haven’t done it. Yet.
I want to, but I just haven’t. I haven’t ever done a 365 but I have done multiple weekly projects. I even did a first week of each month project one year. This is different though. Storytelling, whether in words or with images, needs to be cohesive and sometimes I feel like I am jumping from one thing to another thing all crazy like. I mean, I can point my camera at something every hour and click the shutter button. But thinking through the shots and stringing them together with a flow and a story…that requires thinking a little differently.
But I did realize that I take random pictures around my house on a fairly regular basis. Maybe because of color or the way the light is hitting something or just because it somehow holds meaning in my day.
This is pretty much where every day begins for me. I get up and first thing is push a button to get the coffee going. While it brews I typically feed the cats and give them fresh water, maybe start laundry and unload the dishwasher. But when I hear that final gurgle and swoosh my feet immediately bring me back to this spot.
I also try to get my bed made as early as possible. I just feel like I have accomplished something with it done. But I will confess that it doesn’t happen until later in the day. Even much later. Once I finished putting the throw pillows on it literally as Rob walked through the door at 5:30. But if it gets made it’s a win, right?
Sometimes, I might just grab the camera because I have noticed a spot in the house that I particularly like the look of or maybe something I don’t usually notice. In the past year or so I have managed to keep several different houseplants alive and that makes me happy and I like the look of live (non noise making live things) in our space.
Laundry. Man, I do a lot of laundry. There are six of us living here at home and the towels alone can really pile up up! I used to hate laundry but then I learned to see it as a sign of God’s providence and care for my people. We have what we need. Actually more than we need. I came to view it as a blessing (that can sometimes get out of hand) and one that has a beauty all its own.
Food. You have to know that food pictures are going to be a part of my random shooting. Yesterday, we enjoyed the company of some dear friends that visit our area once a year. It is always such a sweet time and one we really look forward to each summer. We made kabobs and while they were on the grill my friend picked some basil from our garden and proceeded to concoct a delicious chimichurri sauce to go with our meal. She didn’t even bat an eye when I told her to hold still so I could grab my camera. The light was just too good to pass up and the colors all looked so pretty.
She added some lemon zest too and it was so tasty drizzled across the skewers and on top of the rice.
I realize that a year from now, even a month from now or probably by next week if I am being honest, no one is going to be recalling these particular pictures much. But I will remember things whenever I do come across them again…the joy of friendship, the kindness of God in meeting our needs, the simple pleasures of a good cup of coffee and delight in keeping a houseplant alive.
Stopping for a moment to grab my camera to take those pictures helps me cultivate a way of looking at my world with eyes that find beauty and a heart that finds thankfulness.
Man, I love their story! It’s one of heartache and faithfulness in the midst of grief and the joy that comes in the morning.
About seven years or so ago our church experienced a baby boom of sorts. We had two mamas due in September and then one due each month thereafter until February or March if I remember correctly. Except for January. We all just sort of laughed and said that must be JJ and Katy’s month to adopt. And wouldn’t you know it January rolled around and sure enough they got a call that a little fella had been born that morning and the birth mom had signed over her rights, did they want him? Within hours of his birth they were able to be there holding him and loving on him. At his baptism a few months later they were also able to announce that they were expecting in November.
Those Irish twins were quickly followed by another brother and then their first sister.
I say their first sister because baby number five is due next month. That’s right…five kiddos in seven years. What a full noisy home and full happy hearts! Who would have thought of the life God had planned for them?
“For to have been born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.” ~ CS Lewis
So last week I shared a few throwback images of a sweet family I have been honored to photograph through the years. Today I am going to share just a few of my favorites from our recent family session and it may look a little bit odd and you might notice that it’s missing a family portrait. But trust me, we took one and it is precious but I cannot share it for the very best of reasons.
Since our last photo session when Miss Jojo turned one they have become a foster family! Right now they are loving on and caring for the cutest little peanut you have ever seen and it is so sweet to see this family embrace the heavy joy of caring for children who need a home. What a gift they offer by opening their home but also what a gift they receive in return for doing so.
The crazy thing is that right after they brought the little Peanut home they found out they were expecting and that was an amazing surprise in and of itself. Pregnancy is hard on mama and G and Jojo were both born very early and spent some time in NICU before coming home.
The newest little Guernsey stayed put safe and sound inside for longer than either one of her older siblings but not without some considerable help. These needles represent barely half of what mama took everyday during her pregnancy.
Pretty sure they all agree that she was worth it! She is their six pound wonder.
But can you imagine it? A brand new baby girl and a sweet nine month old? Life is very full but so are their hearts. And G-man and Jojo are old enough to be fabulous helpers I know.
One of my favorite things about shooting families is when the children get involved and start giving me ideas and places they want me to us while I photograph them. I really loved that G took me to the tree house he built for a few pictures. There was just something about this shot of him and Jojo that I love. It conjures up all sorts of Swiss Family Robinson nostalgia for me for some reason.
It was such a delightful morning spent with them and once again G captured my heart while holding his new baby sister. Such a tender moment, isn’t it?
I am looking forward to keeping up with them in the months and years ahead to see how God blesses this sweet family!
One of my favorite blessings in Scripture is found in Psalm 128 and it came to mind as I edited these images, particularly the final verse…“May you see your children’s children!”
What a special delight grandchildren must be and what a special delight it is for me to photograph this special relationship. There is something incredible and amazing about being a parent and from what my friends who have moved into that phase tell me grandchildren are just even more of that incredible amazingness.
These friends are blessed to be the grandparents to the four precious kiddos who are all a part of the Week of Edgar. I think they enjoy them, don’t you?
Can I just point out how well the girls did keeping their eyes trained on me and their sweet smiles while the shenanigans were taken place with the two little guys? And there were shenanigans! But my goodness, those littel fellas are adorable!
We did manage to get some really lovely portraits of the six of them together though. I really hope I get to do more of these grandparent/grandchildren sessions. There are precious few pictures of my grandparents much less ones of me and my sisters with them. What a treasure to be able to look back on these and see portraits from a time in our lives that we don’t really remember that well as we get older!
Once I knew we had gotten “the” shot the girls were off and playing so what else was there to do other than little those two young men work at getting their legs under them?
I love how fat both their little feet are! And I also think it is great that they are so close in age and can grow up as the best of friends.
Things always move a little differently for this son of ours. I really thought I had convinced him that with all of the chaos, upheaval and general disruption to life and schooling due to covid19 that maybe we could go ahead and be done with school for now and postpone his graduation until in the fall sometime. There are two important things I should have realized before I assumed his silence meant acquiescence. The first being that his silence is never acquiescence. Seriously, if he does not give an affirmative agreement then you better not expect that he has accepted any sort of change in the plan. Secondly, numbers and dates have strong significant meaning to him and I should have known that graduation for seniors this year, no matter how it looks, happens in May. Not in April. Not in June. And certainly not sometime in the fall. May. May is graduation season.
What can I say other than, you know, autism.
It’s been a big year for Sam with us trying to loosen up the apron strings so to speak and allow him to have more freedom with being an adult. He has been responsible for getting his work done each day and we usually go over it after he’s finished. His favorite subject has been grammar because he wants to be a writer/cartoonist. (True story, when he was younger he wanted to be a cartoonist that delivered babies. He has since decided against the baby delivering part.)
We got him an ipad for Christmas and if you know us at all you probably realize what a big deal that is since we are not a tech heavy family and very reserved when it comes to devices. We have been quite surprised and pleased by the maturity he has shown having such a powerful device at his disposal. He is a very fast and also effective texter. And when I say fast I mean faaasssst.
One of the first things he did when he got the ipad was to create this little video clip of himself. Then he added the dragon. Still not real sure how he worked that and I realize it is rather basic but for a kid who had only had the equipment for all of ten minutes we were impressed.
In a very creative and fun exercise he made up the beginning of a short story that ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. We shared it with a couple of children in our church and he asked them what should happen next. He then created the next animated chapter based on their response. They bounced it back and forth a couple of times before ending the story with a happy ending. I really would love to see him develop this concept more of working with little kids and developing What happens next stories. There are parts to this one that really crack me up and if this is what he can come up with on his own Just by winging it I cannot wait to see what he can do with some actual training in animation. But one thing I do hope is that he doesn’t lose that old school style of cartooning. I love that his cartoons look like cartoons. (Turn your sound on if you watch and please do watch.)
Sam is unwavering in his desire to draw and create cartoons both animated and on paper. And I think we would be blown away if we could catch even a glimpse of half of what he sees inside his head.
He is a hard worker but it takes a minute to get him there. But be ready because when he does get there he is going to talk to you the whole time he does whatever job you have given him. I would have laughed in your face had you told me seventeen years ago that I would one day be telling that non-verbal two year old to please be quiet!
Right now we are trying to figure out what lies ahead for this special big-hearted-cartoon-drawing-story-telling young man. Maybe trade school or some sort of college in the fall. Classes that will help him continue to develop and polish his skills in animation. Meaningful work of some sort. Like every other young man at this juncture of his life Sam is facing the future with plans and dreams and hopes to leave his mark on the world. He is big and bold and full of ideas.
He is completely undaunted by the unknown. I love that about him, about the way an autistic brain works. He is fearless. To his way of thinking both of his big sisters reached this point and now it’s his turn and he’s ready.
And you know what? I believe he is and I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring. We love you so much, Sam Jam! Congratulations on your graduation, bud!