During a bright autumn morning earlier this week, I was invited to spend time documenting one of my favorite friend's family.  There was a sharp chill in the air during our session, but this family's children emanates joy strongly and they immediately warm your soul.  

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I typically spend time with Kelly and her kids at least once a week. The "Gunther Group," as my children call them, are some of my kids' best friends.  Despite seeing this family regularly, it was during this session that I once again realized why I love being a photographer: the connection.  As a photographer, I am invited to observe intimate moments and to witness a person's true self.  Of course, photography can quickly become a lie with posing, fake smiles, and extreme Photoshop editing, but I have no interest in that kind of work or in false connections.  The clients who hire me and with whom I choose to work understand my value of authenticity and it is an honor to be permitted into their intimate spaces. So, even though I play with the Gunther children every week, after our photography session I felt like I understood each child more fully and on their own unique individual level.

The mother, Kelly, has been my good friend for years and a go-to-girl when I need someone to commiserate with over the challenges of parenthood.  I feel like we already knew each other quite well, yet, as I went through the photographs from our session, I found myself tearing up.  Kelly is incredibly beautiful. Of course, I was already aware of my friend's beauty.  However, when we visit together, we're overrun with children, making it challenging to notice anything beyond the kids' enthusiastic energy.   Moreover, the pictures of her and her husband, Elwood, speak their truth.  Due to Elwood's job, he frequently is required to leave his family for months at a time.  Having never been faced with similar circumstances, it has been hard for me to understand how their relationship continues to thrive. As I go through the pictures of Kelly and Elwood though, my question is answered.  By simply looking at the photographs of these two, you can feel their deep connection and the power that holds them together, making long-distance loving survivable.  

It was a delight and an honor to capture this family's joyful love and without further-ado, I give you the Gunther Family.

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 Meet Charlotte, eldest of the children.  I tend to think of Charlotte as a mini-mother.  She is crazy about babies, lighting up with genuine adoration when one enters the room.  She was born into the role of caregiver and spent our morning together engaging her almost two-year old brother.  Charlotte is a highly inquisitive, intelligent young woman who exudes compassion. 

Meet Charlotte, eldest of the children.  I tend to think of Charlotte as a mini-mother.  She is crazy about babies, lighting up with genuine adoration when one enters the room.  She was born into the role of caregiver and spent our morning together engaging her almost two-year old brother.  Charlotte is a highly inquisitive, intelligent young woman who exudes compassion. 

 Next up is Caroline, full of fun and spunk. Typically clad in a sparkly, purple leotard, Caroline is theatrical and an entertainer to her core.  As I snapped her picture, she struck pose after pose and gleefully remarked how fun it was to be in front of the camera.  Caroline's warmth extends past her love for performing and into friends.  She engages the timid and welcomes them into our play community.  Caroline is pure "friendliness" and it's impossible to resist her fun.

Next up is Caroline, full of fun and spunk. Typically clad in a sparkly, purple leotard, Caroline is theatrical and an entertainer to her core.  As I snapped her picture, she struck pose after pose and gleefully remarked how fun it was to be in front of the camera.  Caroline's warmth extends past her love for performing and into friends.  She engages the timid and welcomes them into our play community.  Caroline is pure "friendliness" and it's impossible to resist her fun.

 Catherine, also known as "Giggle Cheeks," is just as affable as her elder sisters.  Her stunning blue eyes and contagious smile engage all and she is quick to bestow her love on anyone who needs it.  I've personally watched her work tirelessly with great love and patience to repeatedly draw my daughter out of her shyness and into their peer group.  Miss Giggle Cheeks Catherine is a true friend and a gentle spirit.

Catherine, also known as "Giggle Cheeks," is just as affable as her elder sisters.  Her stunning blue eyes and contagious smile engage all and she is quick to bestow her love on anyone who needs it.  I've personally watched her work tirelessly with great love and patience to repeatedly draw my daughter out of her shyness and into their peer group.  Miss Giggle Cheeks Catherine is a true friend and a gentle spirit.

 The youngest daughter is Claire.  She is the quietest of the group and is much more introverted than her siblings.  Claire spent the time in-between having her picture taken, huddled underneath her mother's coat, sketching on a new notepad.  Although a bit bashful, her sweet spirit is undeniable and she has a gentle warmth that leaves her well-loved by her friends.  Claire is introspective and, as a kindred sensitive person, I see great strength in this young soul.

The youngest daughter is Claire.  She is the quietest of the group and is much more introverted than her siblings.  Claire spent the time in-between having her picture taken, huddled underneath her mother's coat, sketching on a new notepad.  Although a bit bashful, her sweet spirit is undeniable and she has a gentle warmth that leaves her well-loved by her friends.  Claire is introspective and, as a kindred sensitive person, I see great strength in this young soul.

 Last of the Gunther children is Calvin--oh, Calvin, who always keeps life interesting.  There is no cabinet out of his reach. He has been known to take furniture from one end of his house to the other in aid of his climbing quest to locate treats. Often described as a little monkey, he manages to scale any barrier that attempts to prevent him from achieving his goal.  This soon-to-be two year old is delightfully precocious and takes the world by force.

Last of the Gunther children is Calvin--oh, Calvin, who always keeps life interesting.  There is no cabinet out of his reach. He has been known to take furniture from one end of his house to the other in aid of his climbing quest to locate treats. Often described as a little monkey, he manages to scale any barrier that attempts to prevent him from achieving his goal.  This soon-to-be two year old is delightfully precocious and takes the world by force.

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