Updated: Feb 15, 2020
When Katie stepped from her car into the muddy parking lot of Harriman Park in Littleton, CO, she wanted to cry.
It had been a mad-dash day like all Saturdays when you work full time—too much squeezed into the morning and then a quick nap time for her daughter, Mila because the evening would be impossible without one. Katie was pleased she had found time to shower before their photo shoot, but that was all that pleased her in that moment.
She’d been up with Mila the previous night and was sure no amount of makeup and good lighting could fix the bags under her eyes. As her husband unstrapped Mila from her car seat, Katie could see her little girl's earache wasn’t gone.
This is NOT what she had imagined when she scheduled a family photo session.
Searching online for a lifestyle family photographer, Katie had been overwhelmed by images of perfect looking people in beautiful places, and she wanted that for her family—those vibrant, beautiful connections captured forever. She wanted it now because Mila had just turned one, and she’d want them next year because Mila would be a completely different person at age two.
What Katie couldn’t know as she looked at those images was the stress all those families faced before they got those beautiful pictures. Maybe someone was sick like Mila, or maybe the dad didn’t want to be there. Maybe the mom HATES being in front of the camera. Maybe there was a big fight before leaving the house because the mom had a very specific look for each family member and not everyone was interested in what she wanted them to wear.
What Katie knew when she arrived was her own level of stress and anxiety. Would the pictures turn out? Would this be a big fat waste of time and money?
Like all photo shoots, this one started out a little stiff. No magical posing. Katie thought, This feels very much like every picture I’ve had taken—stand here, put your hand here, look this way. And then gently, slowly, everyone loosened up. Mila had time to explore walking in the snow—a new experience for her one-year-old legs. There was walking and holding hands, a little dancing, a little romancing. Soon the sun had gone down, the temperature was dropping and everyone was breathless from the dash back to the car.
But they were happy, strangely giddy, because they had pulled it off. Their love for one another—a strong current through all the mundane moments of everyday life—had come out, coaxed out of them with a little direction, and then captured and reinforced because they’d looked each other in the eyes and they knew that it was real.
All that stress had been worth it and Katie would have the pictures to prove it. And that mud on her boots? She decided it was a pretty small price to pay.