UPDATE: This post was made as Shinn Shots Photography and does not represent the style or goals of Blue Space Photography. Because I believe in knowing where you’ve come from, I’ve left this here as a reminder of the journey that led me to where I am today. I now only shoot storytelling sessions, so be sure to check out my current work in more recent posts! – Lauren
My friend Sarah has four boys.
Most women shudder at the thought of that. (I’ll be honest…I do too a little bit.)
My grandmother had three boys. I still remember the story she would tell me about when my dad was born. He was the third and after he was born, my grandmother received a telegram from her sister that somehow implied “another boy…I’m sorry.” I remember my grandmother telling me how indignant she felt. She was thrilled to have another boy! Boys are wonderful…especially when you’re their mama.
I met Sarah way back in 2010 when her son Max and my daughter Abi were in the same two-year-old preschool class and we were room moms together. We bonded over our kids and often ran into each other in carpool line which would result in us staying late while we chatted in the parking lot. After awhile, she convinced me to join MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at Creekside UMC. Our friendship has continued over the years, though we never see each other nearly as often as we would like.
It’s hard to explain how you feel about the children of your closest friends. They certainly aren’t my children, but I love them dearly and they occupy a special place in my heart that no one else can take.
Sarah’s oldest, Carter (9), is the one I know the least. Mostly because he was usually in school when we got together. But, I’ll tell you what I do know. Carter is sweet. He has a kind heart and loves his brothers fiercely (even if they are annoying sometimes). I just want to give him a big bear hug. He also, like most 9-year-old boys, likes his technology. He’s an expert on the iPad on with the video games. I love Carter for his maturity and kindness.
Next in line is Max (6). Max is especially dear to my heart since he is Abi’s buddy. Max is sensitive and thoughtful. He’s fabulous with his new baby brother Sam (as those sensitive types usually are). He’s also resourceful and independent, as evidenced by the fact that he took his own training wheels off and learned how to ride his bike all by himself. He’s also extremely creative…moving furniture to create elaborate new worlds and ideas. I love Max for too many reasons to list.
(As a photographer, this photo drives me a little crazy. The composition just isn’t what I’d like. But as someone who loves Max deeply, I just couldn’t get rid of this picture. It’s just so…Max. I got plenty of super-smiley pictures, but this one looks like my sweet Max. Just goes to show you that there’s a lot more to a photograph than the technical aspects. Most importantly, the people in them.)
After Max comes Jack (4). Oh, how to describe Jack. I say this in a loving way, and also because Sarah knows what I mean…Jack’s “nuthin’ but trouble.” Jack is resourceful and independent. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. The second time he came to my house, he went into my pantry, got out the treat bin, and started digging through it before we caught him. The treats were on a higher shelf the next time he came! Boy, does that kid have a sweet tooth! (A man after my own heart.) Jack reminds me of my Abi. Their qualities will make fabulous adults…independent thinkers…determined…accomplished. But to parent them is hard work. I love Jack for his strong will and confidence.
(He’s only still because he’s trapped!)
And then there’s baby Sam (6 months). Oh, sweet baby Sam. My heart hurts at how little time I’ve gotten to spend with Sam. He lives further away from me than his brothers did and it’s been a very busy time. But I snuggle him at MOPS meetings and we spend time chatting. Sam seems laid back and social (just like his mama). He cries very little (at least in public) and seems to be a happy baby. He tricked me during our session, though! I made the rookie mistake of not photographing the baby first because I was counting on Sam’s good nature and knew the older boys might loose interest quickly. But when Sam’s turn finally came around, he hardly gave me a smile! We were all working very hard to get a grin out of the little guy. But as I always tell my clients, it only takes a moment (…and in this case a little photoshop). I love Sam because he’s sweet and little and impossible not to love.
We were lucky enough to have Sarah’s parents join us for the session. I know Jo Ann (Sarah’s mom) well since she is a mentor for our MOPS group. I have also had the opportunity to visit with Ed (Sarah’s dad) regularly since I often run into him walking their puppies at the park close to our house. They are both wonderful and kind. They’ve been married for 43 years and I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures of the two of them together while we waited for everyone else to arrive.
They’re also fantastic people because they’re willing to look after four boys during a photo session! When I photograph a family, I always make a point to take pictures of the parents alone at the end of each session because I think it’s terribly important for them to be reminded of who they are as a couple. Usually that means someone has to be watching the kids!
After kids arrive, life as a married couple quickly becomes just about the kids. Let’s not even talk about how hard it must be to maintain your marriage after four kids! Even if I only give couples 10 minutes to be together…to really be together…it counts.
I use a photographic method called “Beloved” when I take pictures of couples. This technique was started by a man named Jesh De Rox who wanted to celebrate and emphasize the relationship between couples. He wanted to make sure we don’t just take pictures at the wedding, but that we celebrate the that years follow as well.
Typically, the beloved session starts casual. As the couple relaxes I ask them to discuss more personal things with each other. I simply back up (to give them some privacy) and take the picture. The technique results in genuine, heartfelt pictures between couples. As Kevin (Sarah’s husband) said, “It’s like therapy!” I’m so glad you were both willing to reminisce. Such a sweet, sweet image of a sweet, sweet couple.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Sarah, for inviting me out to take pictures. But more importantly, thank you for being such a wonderful friend. My life is undeniably better because you’re in it. Can’t wait to get our families together for chocolate chip pancakes soon!