Kim and I have been trying to set up a magical photography date since 2017 but the stars just would not align. Then this year I finally got to photographer her and her beautiful family! And in one of the strangest coincidences of my professional life, it turns out that Kim and Peter had been frequent visitors of our house before we owned it! I just mentioned that we live in a contemporary in a certain neighborhood, and they mentioned their friends’ names who also used to live in a contemporary in that neighborhood. But the previous owner had kind of a unique first name, so I recognized it and was like WAIT A MINUTE, I THINK THAT’S OUR HOUSE. And BAM! Same house. Small, crazy world. It was a small chance of it coming up, a smaller chance of names being exchanged and remembered, and an even itty, bittier chance of it being the same house. Whoa!

Anyway, besides having a Twilight Zone connection with me now, Kim and Peter have a fantastic family consisting of 3 kids (Luke, Thomas, and Ellen), 3 dogs, 1 cat, fish, and chickens. All creatures and children were extremely friendly. The kids are outgoing, funny, and like to talk to me about what Star Wars video games we have in common. While this age group is not overly eager to have their pictures taken, eight and ten year olds DO tend to make a lot of ridiculous faces at the camera on purpose which I personally enjoy. They’re also excited and willing to attack their parents in pictures, and enjoy decorating Christmas cookies in a variety of hilarious ways. Ellen and Kim did take great care in decorating theirs, but I think Luke and Thomas had a competition of who could make theirs the weirdest, and they turned out like wonderful Christmas monsters covered in ooze and with google eyes scattered about. A game of Memory at the end was won by the children (as Peter pointed out, they had him and Kim beat with numbers and youth), which won them additional video game time. They were very excited to explain Fortnite to me before zoning out completely. I had a joyful afternoon spent with this crew and was happy to finally meet and photograph them!

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.

I might be a little bit biased but I feel like I get the coolest families to photograph, and Jennifer and Gabe’s crew did not disappoint. First, they have an incredible house in the trees that is occupied by two cats. I only met the one, but he was freaking cute, fat, and orange (three solid criteria for judging a cat). His name is Hess. He came with the house and is very friendly, and apparently quite used to modeling for cameras. The second cat’s name is Koby and he did not come out to meet me, but I’m certain I would’ve liked him. Second, they have two adorable children. Maeve is a few weeks old and enjoys sleeping, looking cute as heck, and acquiring beautiful quilts that were sewn by Jennifer’s mom. Lincoln is three and enjoys never, ever getting out of his pajamas (something I totally respect) and hunting for dinosaur eggs that his dad hides in Lincoln’s sandbox under the cover of night. Jennifer and Gabe themselves are fantastic parents and partners, super patient and kind to their kids and each other. I had a great time getting to know them and pretending that I lived in their fantastic house for a brief hour or two of my life.