One sunny morning in May, I sat with Jennie over coffee to learn about the many layers of the people she loves most. She had just gotten a new puppy, and the friendly nibbles under the table was the perfect foreshadowing for my favorite type of family session – playful mayhem.
During this hour long conversation, we dove into her and Matt’s love story and how they’ve worked together to create a family that values togetherness above all else. It enabled me to see her daughters not just as smiling faces, but as loyal, driven, shy, curious and incredibly athletic women-to-be. Most importantly, I saw all the dimensions of Reese, Finley and Teagan through Jennie’s eyes.
Reese, their first born, takes on the perfectionist role, always seeing her duties through and passionately pursuing swimming despite being the youngest on her team. Jennie also talked about being able to have conversations with her that go deeper emotionally and intellectually than her younger siblings – a level of understanding that’s exclusive to the two of them right now.
Finley, their middle daughter, has a loyalty that shines through all her relationships. It’s Finley that holds the sisterly team together, bridging the gap between big sister Reese and baby sister Teagan, melding interests and always finding ways to make their interests dovetail.
And last but not least, Teagan, whose spunky nature drives her to be quite the competition for her big sisters, always pushing to match their accomplishments – and then some. But in her quieter moments, Teagan still loves to crawl into the living room chair for a cuddle with mom each afternoon. The push and pull of still being a toddler.
So why do all these hallmarks of each child matter?
Because every daughter is unique, every son is unique, and every relationship they have to their parents is unique. When I understand who your children are beyond a name and age, I begin to see them as you do, and that translates to photographs that look and feel exceptionally distinct to each family member.
Maybe most importantly, it allows each child to shine on their own – to see their unique place within the family unit as extraordinary.
I was so happy to have all three girls join Jennie and Matt when I presented their photographs. As the images faded in and out on the screen, I watched a tear slide down Reese’s cheek. This was one of those electric moments where I realized how much she could understand emotionally about the connections in these photographs. My hope is that it created a warm, happy place in her memories – a reminder of how deeply she is loved and the culture of family she’s been lucky enough to know.
Karen Kelly is an award-winning photographer specializing in documenting and preserving family history. You can see more of her work online at www.kkpforlife.com, on Instagram or on Facebook. She would love to get to know more about YOU! To contact her directly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.