I met Julie, Ben, Claire, and Yoda on a chilly day to get a photo for their holiday card, and despite the chill we had a great time! I say “chilly” but Julie and Ben are from Michigan so they’re pretty hard to make cold. I’m from Pittsburgh and used to think I was also hard to make cold, but now that I’ve lived down here for many years I no longer go anywhere under 70 degrees without at least a jacket (how did this happen to me?). Claire, who I was warned has a bit of stranger danger, didn’t take long to warm up at all (figuratively, since we were outside) and was excited to walk the trail down to the beautiful little park near their house. There we saw lots of deer, hung out near the gazebo (which Claire loves), and played on the swings. Claire is in an “all things leaves” stage and enjoyed holding and giving away her colored leaves, and she loved riding on the gazebo porch swing with her parents. She is adorable, strong-willed, and very smart… she also has the best shoes. Yoda the Very Good Boy of a Dog stayed closed and obediently took part in family portraits even though Claire didn’t always want that (it wasn’t part of her vision for the pictures apparently). I had such a good time spending some time with this beautiful family and exploring a new-to-me gorgeous little park.

Last time I photographed this family, Patrick was a tiny goofball with short hair and Ellie was an itsy bitsy baby with short hair. Now Patrick (not that much shorter than me at this point) and Ellie both have long hair and a younger brother named Jackson. And soon they’ll all have an even younger sister! And I cannot wait to meet her because I LOVE these people. The parents, Dottie and Jon, are quite near and dear to our hearts. They’re one of the first weddings we shot and the way they supported us and recommended us to get our career off the ground was incredible, and they continue to support me to this day. Both sides of their family are also huge supporters and continue to remain in touch which is so awesome and means so much to me.

Dottie and Jon are the fantastic, intelligent couple who manage to successfully run this incredible household and be adorable while they’re at it. They’re funny and I love them. Now for extensive psychological profiles on their children: Patrick is still a goofball, but now he’s a responsible, kind, REALLY GOOD KID (all caps). He’s helpful and sweet and is careful of where and how he strikes his mom with a lightsaber because she’s pregnant (even though she was showing him no mercy). He is close with his dog Weaver, who enjoys when Patrick rides her around the yard like a small horse. Patrick is stellar. And while the entire family has a killer sense of humor, Ellie is definitely the current comic relief. She’s super silly, makes a lot of faces, has a sharp wit, and can entertain and occupy herself, as well as hold her own with two brothers. Her parents tell me she’s also insanely responsible and schedule-oriented, and easily holds the family together. And then there’s Jackson, who currently plays the role of mischievous, too-smart-for-his-own-good, completely unpredictable yet SO CUTE small child. He enjoyed the pastime of pointing a (suction cup) bow and arrow set at my face repeatedly throughout the shoot (he was respectful enough not to fire… thank you, Jackson), eating chocolate and then getting upset when the chocolate was taken away, and climbing on top of the roof of his plastic car in the two seconds we were all looking in the other direction. He’s a whirling dervish.

All three have strong (and quite funny) personalities, and I cannot wait to see what baby #4 adds to the mix. I am so delighted to have photographed these folks again and be a part of their historical documentation (especially since Dottie is a history buff). Thank you for everything always and forever, D+J.